TPPA and the hogwash about a “high income nation”

By Ravinder Singh

The Prime Minister and many others have been relentlessly talking about making Malaysia a “high-income nation” and a “developed nation” by 2020.

Now, International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamad is threatening Malaysians that without TPPA we will not attain the status of a “high-income nation”.

But no one has defined what a “high-income” Malaysia would be?

Whose high-income are they parroting about? Of the country? Of the top few per cent who are billionaires and multi-millionaires? Of the whole population?

Do they mean that the wealth pyramid will be flattened so that everyone will have a high-income?

Please tell us what a “high-income” Malaysia will have for the people?

  • What will be the income of those living below the poverty line at present?
  • What will be the income of non-graduate workers and other menial workers?
  • What will be the income of graduate and post-graduate workers?
  • What will be the income of the top brass of the Government and the private sector?
  • Will people still be living in low-cost flats and slums? If so, more or less than at present?
  • Will cost of living be reduced or increased?
  • Will people be able to have savings after meeting all their living expenses?
  • Will the huge disparity between the incomes of the rich and the poor be reduced?

How will the “high income” status be measured – by taking the wealth of the top 5 to 10 per cent of the people and dividing it with the total population and calling it “Per Capita Income” ? So just create a few more multi-billionaires and hey presto, everyone becomes richer. So, is that how the TPPA will make Malayisa a “high-income” nation?

The agenda is to make the rich richer, not to improve the welfare of the poor. But the message that is being aggressively broadcasted creates the perception that all the people will become richer. This is what makes all the talk about a “high-income nation” and a “developed nation” a lot of hogwash.

Even if by some magic signing the TPPA makes the public at large richer, inflation will wipe out whatever extra they earn. So, at the end of the day, what is the value of  “high-incomes”? Will the people in the lower part of the pyramid be better off or worse off?

A “high-income” nation means nothing if people still have to live in low-cost flats and slums, if there are people still living below the poverty line, if people have to tighten their belts to make ends meet, if they are unable to pay their housing and other loans and be declared bankrupts.

So how is it by just signing the TPPA will the ordinary people at the lower 80 or 90 per cent of the wealth pyramid, and particularly those in the lowest 30 per cent of the pyramid, suddenly become “high-income” people?

What good is a “high-income” nation, or even a “developed” nation, if the structure of the wealth pyramid remains the same, or worse, the top becomes heavier to oppress the lower rungs to bear a heavier cost of living?

People should not be fooled into getting excited about a “high-income” nation, or a “developed nation”. It’s deception all the way.

A simple measure would be the number of low-cost flats and slum dwellings and the crime rate. A “high-income” nation should not have any low-cost flats and slum dwellings and a “developed nation” should not have so much crime.

Until these targets can be achieved, stop the bullshit about “high-income” and “developed” nation status.

Ravinder Singh is an FMT reader

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