Malaysiakini Letter

Malaysian legislators and neo-liberal economics

Ronald Benjamin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Quite some time ago I watched a YouTube video about the diabetes disease. There was an expert doctor from India sharing his insights to an audience about the disease, its causes and preventive measures.

What impressed me most about this doctor was his knowledge of the workings of global pharmaceutical companies who manufacture diabetic medication that were not necessary or critical to address the illness, but yet being marketed for profits at the expense of people who are not knowledgeable about the disease.

Reflecting on our local context I wonder how many doctors and politicians in Malaysia are truly aware of issues related to medical exploitation of the international pharmaceutical companies who work within a global neo-liberal economic framework?.

Relating to this video message it made me reflect on the upcoming general election. I see a lot of seasoned members of parliament and those who still new on the political stage campaigning for electoral victory.

The question is how many of them understand the current model of our economic system; how it relates to a global economic ideology and empire call neo-liberalism and the consequences of this ideology to the relative poor Malaysians?

There was a heartbreaking article where there was a comparison of life of children living in low-cost flats and the rich kids who are living at a 23rd – floor penthouse, a stone's throw away from the low-cost flats.

The poor conditions of the flats and the lack of proper facilities for the poor was concrete proof that social resources have not been equitably distributed, while the rich enjoy such basic resources for their ability to pay. It is obvious there was relative poverty in the surroundings of great skyscrapers.

This goes back to the fundamental question of what is the real role of MPs and state assemblymen and women in a democratic society in the context of relative poverty?

Are they there to represent the ideologies of their political parties or the social-economic conscience of the nation? It is unfortunate there is a lot of condemnation about corruption such as money-laundering related to 1MDB but there is little noise about how the neo-liberal economic system in Malaysia has facilitated policies that favour the super-rich and how in turn these rich businessmen finance and influence politicians in Malaysia.

Is it not obvious that the 1MDB corruption demonstrates a strong link between a politician and a businessperson who conspired to steal billions of ringgit which could have been used to build decent homes, provide free transport and serve nutritious food at schools and even universities?

As the activist doctor who was able to go beyond his immediate profession, we need MPs and assemblypeople who are able to go beyond their political parties to facilitate greater democratic space in their constituencies.

This to discuss domestic economic models such as neo-liberalism and its links to corruption involving the collusion between politician and businesspeople from big business corporations which has, in turn, reduce funds for the government coffers thus creating conditions for relative poverty.

The question that needs to be asked by Malaysians in this coming general election is what are our MPs and assemblypersons; stand on neo-liberalism and what they would do to address it?

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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