Friday, October 31, 2008

Malaysia - Will reducing wealth gap alone narrow the race gap?

Eradicate poverty regardless of race

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported as saying that all races living in this country will refer to themselves as Malaysians once the economic gap between them is reduced.His contention may be true to some extent but economic disparity alone is not the only reason for the failure to achieve racial unity to the desired level. What is needed is a genuine desire and whole-hearted commitment to by all to close this widening gap between and within the various ethnic communities in the country.

There are many other factors that need to be fulfilled before one feels proud to call himself a citizen of his country. The situation can be compared to a family where the children feel proud to be members of the family not just by the money and comforts provided by their parents but by the love and appreciation rendered to them. Money and wealth may be important but far more important is the need for appreciation of one’s love for the nation. In the US, descendants of once an enslaved race now proudly proclaim themselves Americans and they excel in almost every field like the descendants of their masters.

While it may be important to eliminate the economic disparity among the different races it is equally important to rid of such disparity among all citizens regardless of race. It is utmost to ensure that such measures to eliminate this disparity among the races are not abused by those in power otherwise it would result in one group becoming overtly favored over the others. They should not be used as excuses for encouraging corruption and abuse of power resulting in a small segment of the elite amassing wealth at the expense of the vast majority of the people who continue to suffer in poverty and hardship.

Eradication of poverty should be a top priority of the government and it should deploy all the resources at its disposal to ensure its endeavors succeed. Poverty is color blind as it transcends all racial divide, so should be all attempts in its eradication.

The government has embarked on many development projects since independence to eradicate poverty among its people by its policies to restructure society so that no one particular community will be identified with poverty and backwardness. There is no doubt the target groups have benefited tremendously by such measures. However due to overzealous implementation of these projects unfortunately certain other groups have been neglected resulting in being left out of the mainstream of the rapid socio-economic development thereby giving rise to much unhappiness and frustration among them.

It is important for the government to realize its shortcomings and address this issue of poverty among its entire people for lasting peace and harmony in our multiracial nation. Race based policies initiated 50 years ago may not be relevant anymore due to the rapid advances taking place in the country in a highly competitive global world. It is timely to review the policies of the past and make amends to improve their effectives in a new social-economic environment.

There is no reason for any group to suffer in poverty particularly in our country that is endowed with abundant God-given natural resources. All that is needed is a fairer, prudent and more accountable management of the economy of the country which the government has pledged to undertake.

No comments: