Is Malaysia Really Progressive?
Or is it just a facade to the world?
“Malaysia is a country unlike any other: Full of promise and fragility. Its history, cultural and religious diversity make it a rich, compelling and surprising land.”
Although the quote from Swiss Muslim philospher and writer, Tariq Ramadan stands true that Malaysia is a diverse country, the question stands: Is Malaysia actually progressive?
What goes on in Malaysia?
Foreigners may look at Malaysia with awe at our long history and diverse cultures, but as Malaysians ourselves -- we see what actually goes on. We wish it was a short list of the shortcomings of our beloved nation, but sadly that is not the case as a majority of Malaysians still face hardships in a so-called progressive country. But just for the sake of the article, we’ll try to keep it short.
1. Poverty issues
Did you know the poverty rate in Malaysia has declined from 7.6% in 2016 to 5.6% in 2019 due to the revision of the poverty line income (PLI)? That’s great, right? Wrong!
Although it is true the value of the PLI has risen to RM2,208 per household per month from the RM980 previously, we still see a lot of Malaysians living in hardships we can only imagine. But to think that RM2,208 for 1 household is sufficient and considered a benchmark of poverty is almost ridiculous.
However, it’s great to know that the government is looking into fixing the issue by improving policies under the 12th Malaysia Plan (RMK-12) after Sabah has been ranked Malaysia’s poorest state, again.
Image via Thirsty Affiliates
2. Water issues
Another issue that has been plaguing us for decades is the ongoing water issue especially in many rural parts of Malaysia; West Malaysia and East Malaysia alike. This might be due to the low water rates in Malaysia, as our country has amongst the lowest rates in the world.
After over 60 years of independence, it is unacceptable that there are still Malaysians not getting access to the most basic necessity even in cities like Selangor, where water shortages happen so often.
A more crucial part of West Malaysia that encounters the worse part of the issue would be a state in the east coast of Malaysia which is Kelantan.
Well, it’s not like the people have not spoken up about it. Hello, who wants to live in a world where clean water becomes a luxury? However, all the complaints and viraling of the issue has only bore fruit to ridiculous statements by the Minister of Environment and Water, Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.
According to him, RM7 billion should be allocated to fix the water issue in Kelantan including the solving of flood problems, and even then it is estimated to take 30 to 40 years for Kelantan’s water woes to be fixed. But not to worry, everyone! As the minister has also kindly recommended a sustainable solution: optimise rainwater!
But seriously, look at how bad the condition is. From teh tarik to Americano now! Are they turning a blind eye to basic human rights?
Image via World of Buzz
3. Internet issues
For a nation that boasts so much about developments and modernism, it is quite vexing to see that having access to Internet connection in the current era is still a privilege. When the government had announced the Movement Control Order, it wasn’t expected that it would last for more than months, pushing schools and universities to move to online platforms for teaching and learning. For those living in urban areas, it may be easy for them to gain access but what about those in rural areas of West Malaysia and even in East Malaysia; Sabah and Sarawak?
With the poor internet connection in rural parts of Malaysia especially Sabah and Sarawak, it would deem impossible for students to participate in online classes and e-learning, thus jeopardising their grades and performances.
Familiar with the name Veveonah Mosibin, the girl who climbed atop a tree for better Internet connection so she can take her examinations? Yes, her sharing was definitely eye-opening to the public, especially for the government to take the Internet issues in East Malaysia more seriously. But, you surely don’t expect all students to climb up a tree just for a better connection, right?
Disappointingly, instead of taking initiative, Kudat MP Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri has stated on a Facebook posting that Veveonah was faking the ordeal. Although he deleted the posting and apologised after fiery backlash, it just goes to show that the people’s grousing is only “attention-seeking” which is a poor take from someone who should have been the voice of the people.
4. Racial issues
For a country that prides itself on being a country full of diverse races and culture, we sure can see a lot of racial fights ensued especially online. I mean, look up videos of road rage between two races and read the comments to see which race typically gets blamed first.
We may not realise it, but us Malaysians tend to have a lot of internalised racism. And maybe it stems from generations of ignorant upbringing where racism is okay.
Sometimes, a racial slur would so casually slip out from between our lips and we don’t even realise how offensive we’ve been until it’s too late. Not because we really want to, but because it’s been embedded into us since a young age and we are only now aware that our actions were wrong via the Internet.
A close example would be the issue of Black Lives Matter and the usage of the n-word, and how some Malaysians are quick to stress that it has nothing to do with Malaysia, so why bother being outspoken about it? Well, this issue in America may hit closer to home than you’d like to think.
Image via LoveHR
5. Housing issues
Looking at the never ending housing developments in every state, how can there still be housing issues? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the housing issue in Malaysia is not an issue of availability, it is an issue of affordability.
According to a recent article by Malay Mail, almost 30,000 houses were reported to be unsold in the first quarter of the year. Although this number is lower compared to the 30,664 unsold units from the fourth quarter of last year, it still doesn’t make the situation any better.
Nonetheless, it really is a matter of inability to afford a house due to the market price. “There are many reasons for unsold units,” said Charles Tan, founder and executive editor of kopiandproperty.com. One of the reasons being the starting price of a home can be too high! Of course, another reason being property developers keep churning out new developments at a rate that is faster than the population’s growth.
What can be done is to build more affordable housing units and to offer initiative and incentives such as Home Ownership Programme (HOC) 2020 to allow homebuyers to be able to afford their forever homes, much like what pioneering property developer Myra is doing to help young homebuyers!
And homebuyers should also do in-depth research about the development they are about to commit to, but don’t over-commit to avoid unnecessary regrets in the future!
Rumah Selangorku, Irina by Myra
Do better people!
We speak of Vision 2020 (and now, Vision 2030) and how we are proud of our nation but what are we really proud of? People still not getting their basic needs met due to the government failing them? The constant racial fights happening between races?
To the government and authorities, as the voice of the people, we don’t think we are asking too much if we are asking for clean waters, stable Internet connection and fair wages including other issues untouched within the article. We are claiming our rights as a human and as a citizen of the nation. And to Malaysians, respect each other regardless of our racial, cultural and religious differences. It really costs nothing to be respectful.
Frankly, at this rate, we are still a long way away from a progressive country and to be in par with other advanced countries. But, if we all step up and use our voices, we can bear witness to the betterment of our beloved country.
Cover image via Muhammad Faiz Zulkeflee / Unsplash