Did Umno save Malays from poverty?
Prime Minister and Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Razak recently announced proudly how the party has managed to rescue the Malays and Bumiputra from abject poverty. Soo Weng Jun of The Heat Malaysia writes …
In a Twitter update recently, Najib boasted how Umno has reduced poverty among the Bumiputera by 0.8% in 2014, a drop from 64.8% in 1970.
That is a good 44 year gap and the party only managed to reduce not even 1% of Bumiputera poverty.
Could this be a reason to why more illegal street vendors exist today?
Those sudden Nasi Lemak pop-up stalls, vegetable stalls, snack stalls and more – they are mushrooming by the day.
They are willing to risk getting reprimanded by the authorities simply because they are striving to make ends meet.
A quick comeback line by Umno or Najib would be that the Bumiputera and Malays should be grateful for the existence of the New Economic Policy (NEP) its contributions, which was introduced as the aftermath of the 1969 racial riots.
The NEP, created by Najib’s father, the late Tunku Abdul Razak Hussein who was prime minister then, was designed to narrow the disparities in wealth between the Malay and non-Malay communities in the country through aggressive affirmative action and state intervention in the economy.
While poverty has gone down across the board in Malaysia, does it still not warrant Umno to blow its trumpet so loud saying that it had rescued the Malays and Bumiputras from abject poverty.
For if it had really done so, why do villagers in the rural area continue to suffer issues such as the lack of residential ownership, education and the lack of basic necessities?
In Terengganu, villagers who reside on the frequently visited tourist spot Pulau Perhentian, there are still four to five families sharing one home – some who are even unrelated families. And there are many more such cases nationwide. The sad thing is there are still poor Malays, despite the Malays being the main government of the day.
According to a research done by a group of students from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu in 2014 on the progress of a programme introduced in 2001, Social Welfare Development Programme Among Coastal Community (SPKMP), living conditions of the coastal poor households remain unchanged.
I remember travelling to Bali, Indonesia, in 2014 and witnessed how children were sent out to sell flowers or handmade crafts to tourists.
I then realised how fortunate Malaysians are that we do not see children being sent to the streets to earn money for their family.
Scarily enough, these scenarios may be increasingly visible in Malaysia, and there were some such cases happening on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
So, when Najib blew his trumpet about Umno having rescued the Malays and Bumiputras from abject poverty, is it 100% accurate?