Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UMNO General Assembly 2014 - Will it be different ….

UMNO the leading party in 'Barisan National' (the Coalition which forms the government in Malaysia) will hold its 68th General Assembly 2014 from today (Nov.24) to November 29. It's preceded by an UMNO youth-club leaders convention which discussed the issue of 'hyper connectivity' in communication as faced by the world today.It's attended by student leaders from within the country and overseas.

From the Runner Up news to the General Assembly one can already have a feel of what's going to happen. There will be a lot of animated oratories and rhetorics on a number of issues faced by UMNO in preparation for the 14th General Election in the country, having suffered a number of reverses in the last election. Three States i.e. Selangor, Pinang and Kelantan had been lost to the Opposition while Kedah and Perak were retained by a narrow margin.The MCA - the Chinese component of Barisan- was badly defeated and so was MIC - the Indian component of the Coalition government.
the leaders on stage

The main trusts of the issues are obvious and well known- the plight of the poor urban Malays vs the wealthy Chinese tycoons, the increasing income gap between the Malays and non-Malays,the survival of UMNO in the face of increasing distrust and opposition (even hatred) by the younger generation of the country from all races, the erosion of the Malay culture and Language by foreign modernising influence, the need to transform UMNO to make it more relevant in this age(whatever that means)etc.
glittering highrise condos that few Malays can afford

Those are issues which the leaders and delegates seem to be concerned with. What about the concern of the common Malaysians? Misuse of power and corruption among the politicians ( and also government officials who are currently being hounded by the MACC ( Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission), escalating prices on all major consumption goods including toll rates, services charges and the price of gas, fear of further price increase due to the GST which will come to force next year, clearing doubts on the independence of the Judiciary in deciding on politically sensitive issues (like the sodomy case of the Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim), the declining effectiveness of the Police in combatting on-the-street crime,burglary, house-breaking, mugging, kidnapping etc, the lack of discipline among school children and the controversy surrounding the education policy, the wisdom of giving alms to the low income group through BRIM rather than working out a more permanent solution etc.
beggar boy in the midst of a wealthy community

There seemed to be a wide gap between what political leaders in UMNO and the 5300 prosperous looking delegates, and what the common Malay and man-in-the-street are concerned about. The lofty ideals and goals of political development with UMNO's problems of maintaining and gaining more support in the light of stronger opposition, may not resolve the problems of the poor and needy in the midst of plenty, increasing crimes in the street with brutal murders as against stepping up action against traffic offenders through the issue of more summons and higher fines, and increasing racial tensions due to lack of respect for each others' rights.

There're 755 proposals (Usul) which will be discussed according to the Chairman of the Committee on Proposals and Spokesman of the Assembly, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin. One wonders whether the real plight of of the people (especially the poorer Malays) in facing the escalating taxes, rates and charges, costs of buying a decent house while the towering and glittering condominiums in the cities will certainly not be affordable to the small businessmen and even the civil servants, and corruption seems to surface everywhere involving hundreds of millions or even billions of ringgit. The rape of the Cameron Highlands by unscrupulous farm operators, for example, shows how the rich and powerful can erode the wealth of the country with complete freedom. This in mo case is an isolated phenomenon.

Let's hope that UMNO's General Assembly this time brings forth more solutions to the critical problems faced by the country rather than mere resolutions on what the party has to do to survive.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Highrise swallowing Bungalows, Semi-Ds and Terrace Houses.

Everywhere in and around Kuala Lumpur we see high-rise buildings going up to more than 30 storeys, coming up or already towering above the old town centres and residential areas. This is more notable in suburban areas where the poorer of the urban settlers had made their single or double-storey homes in the early days of history. The new highrise buildings stick out like glassy lego cubes in various shapes and forms.

The new condos and apartments cost close to or even more than RM1M per unit now. There's no way the average income earner can afford it unless he or she is willing to be in debt for almost throughout his or her life.
Only the business tycoons, the wealthy and rich and the novo riches ( especially those who got rich after coming to power in the political system), can afford them. In and around the multi-storied and closely bunched-up concrete and glass structures, are constructed modern infrastructural facilities that cause land and property prices in the area to shoot up like crazy.

Beautiful. That's development and modernisation. That's progress for the nation.But what happened to the older and poorer inhabitants of the area, now made tremendously poor in comparison. Living there becomes terribly expensive with assessment and property taxes going up according to the new rate imposed in the area, the price of consumer goods and services shoots up, and the entire social structure of the past is destroyed, including the traditional local culture. The new societal way of living with the ego of the rich, the crimes and lawlessness that greed and wealth bring in human society, and the 'mind your own business' attitude among the new settlers, can make the area so foreign to the old settlers'

More importantly, they might not have become rich and 'accultured' enough to survive in that area. They are swallowed by a new form of dog-eat-dog life where survival of the fittest is the rule and the rich and powerful dictates everything. Must we be surprised at all if society as a whole in a developing nation then becomes haughty and disrespectful towards each other (unless you're of the same class), differences become more meaningful than similarities, there's no social cohesion to hold communities together, and the population fall apart as the nations becomes more urbanised.

One needs only to look at the suburban areas of Kuala Lumpur and all the major towns and cities in Malaysia to note the impact of the new high-rise culture on the traditional way of life of the people. Other than the economic impact in terms of rising cost for property, land, assessment and taxes, price of consumer goods and services, the high-rise culture spreads a new kind of individualistic, self-centred and disruptive attitude
that destroyed all the ethics of hospitality, mutual respect (in terms of religion and multiracial trust). community cooperation and solidarity which Malaysians have developed in the years prior to the advent of the high-rise intrusion.