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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 19. 2nd August 1973


'Expressed in economic terms, the policies pursued by the free-enterprise nations of the (South-Host Asian) region have not led to any effective mobilisation of national resources which might wipe-out underdevelopment. The opposite has been the case for the policies followed have exaggerated the age-old contradiction between increasing wealth for a few and continuing poverty for the many. That this should be so, that there should have been no effective restructuring of society is largely due to the fact that decolonisation left political power in the hands of the elite groups shaped by western education and whose policies were constrained by continuing outside influences.'

Professor Keith liuchanan

Drawing of a rickshaw driver being whipped

The gap between the rich and the poor in Malaysian society is widening and Malaya is now undergoing a process of political, economic, and social polarisation. Though the ruling Alliance government in Mainland Malaya and PAP government in Singapore claim to achieve the highest per capita income among the South- East Asian nations, the poverty of the majority of the population is widely evident. The economic development of Malaya has in the past decades resulted in a growing consolidation of political power and concentration of wealth in the hands of a small circle of political and business elites.

Malaya is dangerously dependent upon "export trade on a very limited range of commodities: three primary products make up 75 per cent of the exports of Malaya . ." says Professor Buchanan, "the agricultural sector of the economy is grossly inflated and polarised between inefficient production of food crops for local consumption and specialised production of export crops for the world market." Thus, plantation crops play a rather dominating role in the economy. "In the agricultural sector a high proportion of the income is derived from plantation crops produced, often by foreign companies, for overseas markets."