Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Development Economics

I am gonna be a bit emotional in this entry, thereupon apologies beforehand. :)
One interesting module this term: EC310 Topics In Development Economics.

In the first lecture last week, we were outlined with the current situation of massive income disparity in world’s population, where there are still billions of people who live with less than one dollar per day, most of them in developing countries. Today, we were introduced to microeconomic approach to the whole situation, poverty trap and stuffs. The lecturer further added that, certain conditions will indeed make it harder for poor folks to break the poverty trap.

Coming from an impoverished family in a small fishing village in Terengganu, I can see and make much more sense of things that I read from the journals and lecture notes given by the lecturer. I am wholeheartedly grateful to PNB for supporting and giving me the financial backbones all this while (ten years of my life until now, much of it are all thanks to PNB). Around this time, 10 years ago in 2001, luckily I was selected into Kolej Ilmu PNB (KIPNB), something like a charity college for secondary education for poor kids with potential.

Right after UPSR exam in 2000, I still remember the tears that I tried to hide and weep inside, when my father was unable to provide around RM1000 (merely £200) for the registration fee to SMK Sains Dungun. I had to go to the nearby secondary school, SMK Mercang (being a rural school there was not much potential in getting good education compared to those better schools in town area). Things were a bit stressful back then, out of 4 students who scored 5A’s that year, I was the only one who was still at the village. However, knowing that there was nothing much I could do then, I prayed hard that I would get into KIPNB of which eventually I did. 5 years of secondary education in Kuantan, followed by 2 years of A Level in KYUEM, and now I have 6 months left of my 3 year MORSE degree in Warwick University, all of which are courtesy of PNB.

Collectively Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak contribute the most to federal government coffer through petroleum revenues but these states are still indeed the poorest ones in Malaysia. What happened? What went wrong? Where the hell all those billions of Ringgits from petroleum revenues went? Barisan Nasional is nothing apart from a bunch of selfish, capitalists sitting comfortably on top of the support each other, in a system more a reminiscense of Stalinist capitalism revolving around money politics. Corruption is everywhere and mega projects are handed out to cronies of the aristocrats, many of which don’t have enough technical capabilities. Sheer intelectuality controls are imposed onto those who live in the sprawling villages and countrysides, by manipulating media to the greatest extent possible. Those who live in big towns and cities are much better informed via the internet. NEP opposition are then branded as Malays’ betrayers, just like the ones who oppose anything fundamental in the government are suppressed to their core, and put into draconian internal security act (ISA) without trial for years.

The government protect National Economic Policy (NEP) of which is supposedly to help the poor Malays to because that is the lifeblood of this incompetent, corrupt regime who can do no shits. Do they think, I believe that they really care about the condition of the very poor ones in the country? Most of which are Malay, but some sizeable poor Chinese and Indians still exists. Do they still reckon and expect, the younger generation to approve and agree with racial politics? One that is further tarnished by their outright lack of critical mature thinking, accepting wrongs and rights at their respective places ?

Pakatan Rakyat is no absolute solution either, I have never really had any confidence in the viability of the loose coalition of Islamist PAS, chinese focused DAP, and immature PKR in forming a strong federal government. They still have got a lot to learn, but at least they are much lesser of an evil than Barisan Nasional. What worse can it be than it is now? Why some people are so afraid of change? It is certainly not the end of the world, but perhaps it is for BN.

I salute, appreciate and cherish those (mostly NGO’s) who endlessly work and volunteer in programs to help those poor people. Programs like Projek Kalsom is awesome in its essence, but less effective perhaps because of its temporary nature. Those impoverished kids, men and women need continuous and consistent tools (not money, mind you) to help themselves move up the ladder. I don’t quite believe in financial incentives as they tend to be misleading, and channeled towards something else of a short run nature, and not the ones that are more beneficial with greater spin-off effects like educational or entrepreneurial development efforts.

There must be something much more effective than whatever the government have for now, since they are very short run in nature with no real long term effect in breaking the poverty spell. They tend to think, that those village folks would be more than happy with one off cash handouts during elections. They need long term solution, not a short sighted one that will only benefit the middlemen (BN cronies) the most. In the small villages like mine, family of teachers, shop owners and government servants will be much better off than the rest, who mostly are uneducated odd jobs worker (like my father).
If a revolution can happen in Tunisia, sparked by a fruit seller who refused to stay being bullied and tossed around by the arrogant higher authorities. I truly believe there’s still hope for a much better Malaysia, one with less racial discriminations, corruptions, stupid mega projects, and more convergence in income distribution.

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