Monday, January 2, 2012
Here We Are 2012.
According to the Mayan Great Cycle calender, 2012 marks the end of the Great.Cycle of 13th B'ak'tun and will bring the Armageddon, an apocalyptic phenomenon that will end the world. That will hsppen on 21.12.20012. Malaysians don't subscribe to this belief, especially the Muslims. We believe that doomsday can come any time and many signs of its impending arrival are already noticeable.
Be that as it may, life goes on. The fightings and the killings in many Middle East and west African countries go on despite the fact that the US OF A's war machine had left Iraq. Severe cold and flash floods keep many other countries in constant fear. The global economic situation looks bad and some of the giant business compamies including banks and airlines in Europe and the US are facing the threat of bankruptcy. We don't know how bad the situation really is, of course,since rich people and countries don't spell out their economic woes. Poverty only exists in the poor third world.
Well, Malaysia on the other hand is talking about becoming a high-income nation, a fully developed country and a tourist hub in South East-Asia. All the economic transformation strategies, the social integration framework and the infrastructural requirement seem to in place. What we don't want is to become a modern and developed nation at the expense of those who remain poor and depend on government subsidies to survive. Countries like the US and UK have social securities and welfare schemes to take care of the unemployed and the poor, ensuring that they have a minimum income top live on. We don't, nothing to ensure that the unemployed, the disabled and the very poor will get some money every month to keep them going. To become a high income nation would be a mockery if the streets become full of vagabonds and beggars or full of modern-day Robin-hoods who will rob the rich to help the poor (or just themselves). The poor in a rich nation will suffer more than the not-so-rich in a poor nation. Put in a more negative way which we, of course, don't like, poverty doesn't matter if everybody is poor.
What is most worrisome about becoming a rich nation is that the price of things begin to skyrocket even before people's income take a hike. Look at the price of things in the country now. While the inflation rate is said to remain at less than 4% food prices have good up by anything between 50 to 100% over the last five years. Bread used to be about a ringgit a loaf. Now it's reaching two ringgit. The 80 sen nasi lemak has now gone up to RM1.50 sen or more while the RM1 package will not satisfy a hungry person nor is it accompanied by some palatable "sambal tunis" and a wholesome half of an egg. "Teh tarik" and coffee has passed the RM1.50 sen mark while it was just some 50-80 sen before.
There's no standard price fixed, of course, for cooked food since the same stuff can be cooked in different ways with different accompaniments. But what is important is that you cannot any longer have a wholesome and satisfying lunch with less than RM5. Of course, who cares about this when government has raised the remuneration of all public servants while the income of workers in the private sector has always been better than in the government? The question is , what happens to the self-employed people who have no steady income and live from hand to mouth? Will they just disappear after we become a high income nation? Whereto and how? Do we have a welfare scheme to take of them as they do in the developed country especially in the welfare states?
We are in the year 2012 now. As far as Malaysia is concerned we are also at the brink of a General Election. The NST has just disclosed that there is a lot of illegal activities going on at the border states. Heavily subsidized goods are taken across the border and sold at market price with a huge profit, with some border enforcement officers probably helping rather than taking them into custody. More importantly they are also causing shortages in Malaysia itself. Are there enough anti-corruption officers to deal with this matter? The police has increased it strength substantially but are they being deployed mote to fight crimes such as house-breaking and handbag-snathching than issuing summons to drivers who overspeed by a few km/hour? Holding a gathering of people for public lectures and other peaceful purpose will soon be allowed without a need for a permit but why interfere with university students holding a rally on campus ground? Will 2012 bring more academic freedom and freedom of speech or not?
These are some of the worries that greet us with the entrance of 2012. Otherwise we seem to be doing all right. As for the political struggle that we see between parties and within them, where in the world is politics a peaceful and quiet affair?