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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 20. 1972

Malay Masses Driven to Dire Poverty

Malay Masses Driven to Dire Poverty

As a sharp contrast to these bureaucrat capitalists, the Malay peasents have sunk further down in poverty. Unemployment and prostitution have been on the increase. What the puppet authorities have done is to aggravate these problems. According to the Annual Reports of Bank Negara Malaysia as shown from Table 2, out of M$1,433, the total amount of loans and advances lent by commercial banks to customers at the end of 1967, only M$129 million or less than 10% was lent to agricultural borrowers. By the end of 1968, the amount of loans and advances constituted only M$160 million (9.3%) out of the total M$1,760 million. In 1969 M$190 million, 1970, M$240 million and 1971, M$280 million representing merely 10% of the total amount of the loans and advances of commercial banks. It should be pointed out that all these agricultural borrowers were estate and big farm owners. The peasants got nothing. A feature article disclosed that funds totalling M$2,500 were spent by the Mara, "Government-sponsored" Cooperative Societies and other bodies supposed to be looking after the interests of the "sons of the soil." From these sources less than 1% went to agriculture (See Berita Harian, February 24. 1969). This article pointed out that the small peasants were left with no alternative but to go to the landlords, usurers, shopkeepers and pawnshops for loans at exorbitant rates of interest. It was reported by a magazine, "Dewan Masharakat" that the peasants in Kedah had to pay 85% interest in six months loans advanced to them.

Table 2: Loans and advances of commercial bank to agriculture, Malaysia, as at end of December 1967-1971 Purpose of Loans & Advances.YearTotal (M$ MN)Agriculture (M$MN)%of Total.19671,432.9128.69.019681,763.6163.39.319691,998.9193.19.71970 19712.359.6 2,667.2240.310.2 278.210.4Source: Compiled from the Annual Reports, Bank Negara Malaysia, 1967-71.

According to the Annual Reports of Bank Negara Malaysia, allocations for agricultural and rural development from public development expenditure for the Five Year Plan periods of 1961-65, 1966-70 and 1971-75 were M$421.6 million, M$1,099 million and M$1,921 million respectively. As is common knowledge, the major portion of these vast sums of money has found its way into the ever-expanding pockets of the bureaucrat capitalists. This explains why the Malay bureaucrat capitalists are that immensely rich so quickly, while the conditions of life of the Malay rural masses, even on the admission of the puppets themselves, are daily worsening.

Ghafar Baba, head of the Mara, had to admit that 95% of the Muslims( i.e. the Malays) are living in poverty. It is well known that 80% of the rice growing peasants do not own the land own the land they till but work for landlords or become tenants paying very high rents. Their average income per month is less then $M50. Fisherman have even smaller incomes which average less than M$35.

Millions of dollars have been allocated for so-called social welfare and medical and health services (M$688 million in 1966-70, M$1,068 million in 1971-75). Yet malaria which is not an incurable or unpreventible disease, is practically epidemic in many states. 91% of the people of Kelantan suffer from it and corresponding figures for Trengganu, Kedah, Perak and Perils are 89%, 83% 71% and 71%. In all but one of these states, Malays form the majorrity of the population. The Razak clique have often boasted about their education programmes. In spite of their professed concern for the uplift of the Malay masses, for example, in 1968, 76,000 of the Malay children attending primary schools had to drop out at the end of their third or fourth grade because either the parents could not afford the expenses or the children had to help to earn a living. The drop-out rates in recent years increase alarmingly.