Is the image above a painting depicting a shanty village in a faraway foreign land?
Sorry, folks. It is no artist’s imagination. It is real and right here in ‘modern’ Malaysia in the year 2022.
After six decades of independence, we still have settlers living like this, like in some distant ‘fourth world’ destination.
The above photo (from The Vibes portal, 2 November) clearly shows how our national policies have discriminated against some people, resulting in an ever-widening chasm between the haves and have nots.
This photo shows a settlement in Kampung Sibiew in the Bintulu district in northern Sarawak.
Elsewhere in Malaysia, decades of development have featured the unending erection of skyscrapers and countless upmarket residences, along with a growing list of billionaires and millionaires in our midst.
Unfortunately, the country’s political leaders have failed to ensure that the wealth of the nation reaches the four corners of this blessed resource-rich nation. The people of Kampung Sibiew are among the many whom these leaders have chosen to sideline. These leaders have denied marginalised communities a fair share of the wealth the nation is endowed with.
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As we approach polling day, we will hear all kinds of promises. Perhaps these marginalised people, who some callously label as ‘squatters’, will be given handouts – enough to get by for a few days – to entice them to vote for desperate politicians.
Don’t our politicians have any shame?
Many of us who live in comfort in modern cities and towns remain oblivious to the realities of failed policies, which have denied many their fundamental right to a decent life.
Kampung Sibiew and many other places like it showcase the ugly side of failed policies and corrupt leadership. They show up the leaders who fend only for their own earthly comforts and personal gain.
Even in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, we hear the cries of people who have been abandoned by society, as the madding crowd races to make hay only for themselves.
We have regressed into a nation without a clear conscience.
What is the use of screaming our lungs out with religious fervour or being swayed by racial sentiments when so many have been left behind in poverty, struggling to eke out a living?
Where is our humanity? By global standards, by religious dictums, and even by the dictates of our own Federal Constitution, we have failed.
As voters head to the ballot box on 19 November, hopefully we will all hold the political leaders accountable for the pathetic living conditions of so many people in this land.