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An economy based on greed at all costs?

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Do we not see that happiness is not derived from economic growth but instead comes from a balanced society with good health, clean fresh air and adequate recreational space to enjoy life, wonders JD Lovrenciear.

Recently, a news report revealed that Pulau Indah was being turned into a global plastic dump and recycling belt.

The justification dished out by those in power was that there was much money to be made and this could help drive our economy.

This, then, appears to be Malaysia’s paradox. The world is dumping their toxic plastics here to free their own populations from the hazards of the recycling industry. But we are determined to chase after money, all in the name of economic opportunities and at the expense of good health.

On the one hand, we have been screaming “no plastic bags” and even making consumers pay 20 sen per bag on weekend shopping trips. Lest we forget, all in the name of good health, we are also pushing ahead with smoke-free zones even in open areas (while we are happy to collect taxes from cigarette sales).

Some believe our local vegetables and farm chickens are believed to contain high pesticides and hormone levels, respectively. And it is anyone’s guess what happens to the container loads foodstuff that return to our land as rejects.

We plough millions of ringgit into great projects like the ‘river of life’ beautification now underway in the heart of the federal capital.

But the city continues to be choked with endless high-rise buildings mushrooming from every pocket of land that can be carved out. These homes and commercial lots are then sold at huge profits.

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It looks as if we have not learned anything from the 1MDB scandal. What was meant to be for the economic development and benefit of a growing population now lies as a testament to a group’s greed for money.

So is Pulau Indah going to end up as yet another gross mistake several years down the road? Must everything be translated into more money, more economic benefit and opportunity for making some people rich?

Do we not see that happiness is not derived from economic growth but instead comes from a balanced society with good health, clean fresh air and adequate recreational space to enjoy life in a wholesome manner?

We must debate this obsession for development, economic gain, wealth creation and all else connected to this national penchant to make more money. We preach about quality of life. We campaign for health improvement. But the population is struggling under the yoke of greed for more money at any expense.

Something is seriously wrong. It is time to tackle this paradox that threatens to permanently rob Malaysians of a happy, healthy and wise life.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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15 Nov 2018 7.06am

Both Pakatan and BN member parties represent the interests of competing factions of Malaysia’s capitalist class, so I would not expect them to subscribe to the values you rightly advocate.

The Pakatan government is nicer in that it allows citizens more social and political freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly but when it comes to their economic interests – ‘I’m gonna go after a bigger slice of the pie and don’t you dare stop me.’

All we did in GE14 was to elect representatives of a faction of Malaysia’s capitalist class to replace their rival faction which had grown corrupt in the 61 years it had been in power since independence.

They will not liberate the “pris’ners of starvation and wretched of the earth”.

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