Thursday, February 5, 2015

Poverty is colour-blind


All over the world, Malaysia included, the talk is about the high cost of living. On what the average person earns, he or she will find it very difficult to survive. In some countries, due to the shortage of hard cash, people have resorted to barter trading.

For example, a dentist may offer his services in exchange for a set of car tyres. In fact, they have even set up a website where you can barter for what you need -- a sort of ‘goods and services exchange’, just like a stock exchange.

As the world becomes poorer and governments spend trillions every year financing wars, with very little set aside for social welfare, billions of people are finding it very difficult to make ends meet.

Poverty is colour-blind. Poverty does not pick and choose its victims. When poverty strikes it hits all and sundry irrespective of race, religion, age and gender. So let us leave race out of this because race has absolutely nothing to do with it.

It is most unfortunate that what the Minister said has become the main issue of this week. However, does all this squabbling help when what he said may not be entirely accurate but still quite close to the truth -- meaning the high prices of good and services?

The Minister’s mistake was in equating profiteering to race. Race has nothing to do with profiteering. Profiteering, just like poverty, is also colour-blind. Profiteers will profit from their own race as soon as they would profit from another race.

Probably the foulest of trade in history is the slave trade. It happened in the west and it happened in Malaya as well back in the colonial days. We always talk about how the whites sold the blacks and profiteered from it. What we fail to mention is that the blacks were selling their own people to the white slavers. And the same for the Malayan slave trade where pirates captured people of their own race to sell as slaves.

Hence when it comes to making a profit the profiteers do not care whom they profit from. They will profit from anyone they can and they do not discriminate based on race. Malays and Indians will go all out to make a buck just like the Chinese would. So in that sense it would be unfair to target just the Chinese for criticism.

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