Monday, December 1, 2014

After the Rhetorics and Submissions….

As usual, lots of dramatic speeches (or is it actual dramatisation), acclamations and submissions had been staged at the UMNO General Assembly 2014. Some overacting on the part of the lead roles made me laugh. Recounting success and patting oneself on the shoulder in addition to moaning over some internal party weaknesses, was more than the examination of critical national problems.
the ex-PM listening to the current PM's speech

And the issue brought up were nothing new. They were the same perennial issues - bumiputras lagging far behind in economic progress, escalating costs in housing, consumer goods, rates and service charges, worsening disrespect for the rights of the Malays and the royalties, declining standards of education in 'Sekolah Kebangsaan' (the national type schools) and use of the national language,increasing extremism in religious pursuit, etc. And all the leaders who spoke at the Assembly had their ideas on how to tackle the problems anew, with the Prime Minister insisting on SOLIDARITY as the basic requirement for stability and progress.

The Sedition Act 1948 remains in force. And at least two more issues are to be incorporated as a no-no: insulting a religious faith and inciting a break-up of East and West Malaysia. On top of everything, UMNO has to revive a 'youthful soul' in order to win the next general election.

Fine. the talk is done and now we wait for the action. The price of gas, Ron95, will be reduced by 4 sen per liter as of December 2014 after a hike of 20 sen. There is yet no sign of a reduction in the price of housing; all signs show a rise to the RM1 million mark or more. Car prices don't seem to come down, only the rebates seem to increase a little. Food prices? Not even one item seems to decrease in price. The well-loved 'satey' increased in price from 80 sen to RM1 while that of the 'otak-otak'(fish paste wrapped in coconut leaves) increased from 50sen to 80 sen. The price of other delicacies, I'm sure, follow suit. Malaysians cannot any longer have a simple meal and drink for less than RM10. The rent for a single storey terrace house could go up as high as RM800-RM1000 pm.
eating place of the rich

Obviously the goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020 is fast becoming a reality in terms of price hikes. In terms of Income Per Capita, the goal may also be achieved with a continued rise in GNP. But chances are that the actual increase in the income of the average Malaysians may be 'eaten up' by the rising cost of living.And the low-income folks who are enjoying the BRIM (One Malaysia Cash Assistance) which has been increased up to RM900 per issue (only three times a year), may not be able to buy much with the gift.
eating place of the lower income group

But more significant than all that is the solidarity factor as stressed by the Prime Minister. The school and even the higher education system including the universities, seem to be breaking up young Malaysians into groups according to economic classes, race or religion.The rich can afford to go to private schools and universities ( which are multiplying in number) while the national schools (sekolah kebangsaan) are mainly for the poorer Malays.
The National Type Schools ( Chinese and Tamils) cater for the other young Malaysians, who never had the chance to mingle with the young Malays from a very young age. From this point of view the National School concept had failed to lay the foundation for a common Malaysian identity among the children.

Can the working life and the market forces bring about the multiracial solidarity that we aspire for? The UMNO General Assembly 2014 gave to clue to answer this question. The importance is stressed but the means to achieve national solidarity (unless that was just a call for UMNO members to consolidate their interests) was not discussed.

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