Kuala Lumpur—Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad has said that his administration’s number one priority is to fix the financial and economic disparity among the different races in Malaysia, as well as between those who live in urban and rural areas.
Otherwise, the possibility of violence looms large.
In an interview on a breakfast morning show, the Prime Minister said, “We noticed that the distribution of wealth in the country is not even or fair. There is a great disparity between the urban and rural areas. We need to correct that. Some states are rich, some are poor. We need to correct that.
We have a problem with the performance of some ethnic groups, for example, the Bumiputera here and in Sabah and Sarawak. They are relatively poor compared to people living elsewhere.
We need to repair this because if there is a great disparity, there will be antagonism that can lead to violence.”
Dr Mahathir came on the air to explain the administration’s policy of Shared Prosperity Vision.
The Prime Minister said that the gap between the rich and the poor can be quite large in particular areas, and what complicates matters further is that this gap falls along the racial divide as well, saying the there are more communities of Bumiputera and Malays in rural areas. Here, these communities have economic activities that do not gain for them the same amount of wealth that Chinese communities in urban areas have.
He said, “The disparity is sometimes very big. That isn’t easy. There is divide between town and country. That makes things worse because the people in town are made up of different people from the country.
To correct that, we have to move people from the country to town. If you move town to the country, the people living in the country will suffer more.”
The Prime Minister pointed out that the solution to the problem is educating people.
“We know where weaknesses are. We have to train them in management so they won’t make too many mistakes. It is both an education and cultural issue. It is an educational issue because in schools we don’t train people how to manage things.
Now have to focus on financing, management and things like that so that when they graduate and leave school they know how to do business. Cultural system is a value system. If your value system isn’t suitable for certain kind of activity, you will fail.
For example, if you are laid back, you won’t be as successful as those keen to work hard and want to work hard.”
But he said, education is also a difficult issue for some Malaysians, due to the cultural associations in vernacular schools.
The Prime Minister did not spare criticism for vernacular schools but added that the Chinese found them necessary.
“The Chinese want Chinese schools. Of course, this isn’t going to bring people together. This is one of the causes Malaysian don’t go to school together. Vernacular school is bad. But we also respect the sensitivity of the Chinese, we have to do it in a way to respect them.
“We have suggested three schools in one campus, but even that is rejected by Chinese. They don’t want their kids mingling with other races,” Dr Mahathir added./ TISG
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