Sunday, May 13, 2012
Persistent Signs of Underdevelopment
Many aspects of life in the towns and cities of Malaysia would show that we are already a developed nation. The growth of urban infrastructure and high-rise buildings, the maddening traffic jams in urban centers, the throng at supermarkets and shopping malls, the pomp and ceremony of national celebrations and anniversaries, the sophistication of trade fairs and business promotions, the grandeur of sports and cultural activities, all point to a level of development similar to that of the developed nations.
What then keeps us at the backwaters of modernization and development? Or serves as reminders of the fact that we are not yet that modern or sophisticated?
Many I'm sure will straightway point to the existence of rural villages all over the nation, still living in substandard housing with substandard infrastructural facilities. We find such villages sometimes just a few kilometers aways from the urban centers.They of course proliferate in the remote areas of the country, hidden by thick (though rich) forestland and jungle as compared to the well cared-for estates and Felda resettlement areas. Many of these areas are the homes of aborigines and the forest tribes who feel uncomfortable living in houses made of brick and mortars.
But even the western countries which comprise the so-called developed world including the developed eastern countries like Japan and North Korea and the southern island of Australia and New Zealand, have their rural or tribal/aboriginal population. That doesn't make them underdeveloped. Some of the Latin American countries are as developed as any on their North American counterpart. Yet they too have a large number of low-income and "poor" population and the country countries cannot be called underdeveloped.
What then are the primary signs of underdevelopment? I would think that they include not just economic indicators like low income, sprawling urban and rural poverty, inadequate infrastructural facilities, shabby housing areas with old and dilapidated houses, the lack of medical and educational facilities etc. If so then Malaysia can already be considered as highly developed for we don't see such situation anymore.But there are other social and cultural factors that to me indicate the country's lack of a claim to being fully developed. These include small and simple things like the lack of civility and decorum when driving on the road and not keeping to your lane or giving adequate signal before crossing it,
throwing rubbish and food wrappers out of the car while driving,respecting the right of others when moving in a crowded place like a shopping mall or supermarket, giving an applause after an artist finishes a performance, even queuing up for services which in Malaysia has recently improved very much.
What I'm saying is that there are still many little social and ethical things that the Malaysian public don't observe which can make the Malaysian society appears as still underdeveloped. There is no way that I can list them all but we get embarrassed or even shameful when we see it happening. Things like a couple of Malaysians talking and laughing very loudly in a quite and cozy restaurant or cafe, noisily clearing your throat and spitting in the public,leaving a picnic area or a table without clearing the rubbish you created, and shopkeepers allowing the corridor in front of their shops to be dirty or messy.
We seldom see such things happening in the so-called modern and developed society, Yes we do see some of the unruly youths or anti-social elements breaking the social and ethical code of conduct. But they do not represent the society as such.