The future is bright, especially with Datuk Seri Idris Haron, the Chief Minister of Malacca, at the helm. Malaysia has finally found the PM-in-waiting and future Finance Minister.
Additionally, the World Economic Forum, held annually at Davos, Switzerland, might have found its latest economics wonder and star attraction.
Idris dismissed claims that Malaysia was facing an economic downturn, and he used as his benchmark, the fact that no Malaysian had starved to death.
Forget the crucial issues which matter in world economics, such as global migration, the terrorism threat to peace, the race for jobs between locals and migrant communities, the increasing use of robots and automaton which will eventually squeeze humans out of certain jobs, the preference for men over women in some types of work, climate change, reduced food production, people who cannot pay for expensive medicines, the spread of disease, child exploitation, and the sabotaging of some economies through the use of cybercrime.
In Idris’ mind’s eye, the fact that there have been no dead, or malnourished Malaysians is a sign that we are a prosperous nation.
Few Malaysians will remember that Idris is the man who caused a public outcry when knowledge of his three official, luxury cars, became public. A luxury Lexus R350 with registration number MCS 11, had been put at Idris’ disposal to observe water catchments in Malacca, at Lendu, Serkam and Klebang.
As head of state, Idris’ primary official car is a Honda Accord, with the number plate M1. The other car, is a Mercedes Benz S400 with the number plate, MCM1.
If cars are to Malays, what the cattle are to the Masai of Kenya, then Idris is reasonably wealthy, but his lifestyle, which comes, courtesy of the taxpayer, is not shared by 97% of Malaysians.
Although Idris was adamant that Umno-Baru policies had brought social justice and made Malaysians prosperous, he is out of touch with the ordinary Malaysian.
During last Hari Raya, the effects of the GST hit people hard, when few people could afford new clothes or shoes for their children. In the back streets of Kuala Lumpur, and the alleyways of affluent Bangsar, the homeless and the druggies could be found, begging for scraps of food, while a few are stiff with rigor mortis, having overdosed on some drug or other.
If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, many people said that they did not shop at the Ramadhan bazaar, and had a less elaborate Open House; however, Idris claimed that Malays found the 29 days of the month of Syawal, insufficiently long, for hosting additional Hari Raya open houses. He attributed this, to our economic prosperity.
Comparing the runners of the Kuala Lumpur marathon, and the suicide bombers of Afghanistan, Idris said that it was economic prosperity which enabled Malaysians to run in the middle of the streets, unlike in Kabul where the roads were used to kill and injure people.
He insisted that Malaysian economic prosperity had benefited the rakyat. He also said that food shortages and a shortage of manpower, had forced Libyans to eat only once a day, whilst many had starved to death.
We have seen the growing income disparity between the rich and poor in Malaysia. The gap is widening, and we are aware that the bulk of the nation’s wealth, is in the control of a few billionaires.
Whilst Idris’ evaluation and definition of prosperity is limited, the more worrying aspect is that he wants to wait until the point of no return, before he, or his administration, will finally address the issue.
Why wait till we have deaths, to address the economy? Why wait till a person is seriously ill, before he is treated?
Do we need to wait until the streets are littered with dead Malaysian bodies to address a growing economic disparity and imbalance in Malaysia? Has Idris heard of the expression, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”?