Friday, June 25, 2010

What is to be Done?

A Product for Alumni of IIUM and other Universities in Malaysia

When a graduate of IIUM or any other university in Malaysia returns to his or her country the first thing that he or she would do is to look for a job in order to have the resources for a living.

After the honeymoon period of being a new graduate and a new employee the graduate might wish to look around for an activity that he or she can participate or initiate in the interest of the Ummah.

One such noble activity is to participate in the activities of the local WIPER and should there be none in existence the graduate might want to initiate its formation.

In order to form a local WIPER or actively participate in the activities of the global WIPER network, graduates from Malaysian universities should get together in a meeting with the following agenda:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not A Garden of Weeds

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during OIC Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development in Tehran, Iran on 14th January 1995.


As a result of persevering efforts in pursuing the subject of poverty, the AARRO had appointed Malaysia to form a model institute for poverty eradication named World Institute for Poverty Eradication, with the acronym WIPER.

WIPER is to wipe out poverty.

While the Red Cross, and later the Red Crescent, is of Swiss origin and was instituted to assist the needy in times of war and disaster, WIPER intends to help the needy in times of peace.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summary on Poverty

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Regional Conference in Bali, Indonesia on 10th October 1994.

Food Security

At its 22nd session in 1993, the FAO defined the concept of food security as encompassing three conditions:

1)      Adequacy of supply throughout the country
2)      Stability of supply throughout the year
3)      Access to food, physical and economic, on the part of those who need it

Action Programme

I noted in the proposed action programmes on food security of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), attention is brought to the following subjects:

1)      Establishing fertiliser plants
2)      Training of farmers in their own country or in other countries
3)      Technical assistance and cooperation from capable nations and the private sector
4)      Cooperation in research and development (R&D) among experts in NAM member nations
5)      Establishing joint-venture projects among member nations
6)      Encouraging food trade among member nations
7)      Supporting food production increase in Africa
8)      Reducing poverty, enhancing food security and self-efficiency
9)      Management of buffer stocks (reserve)

Solutions and Problems

There are more noble ideas which deserve the support of all but marrying the solutions to the problems, we find that:

1)      For low productivity of land, we have fertiliser, irrigation and R&D
2)      For low productivity of farmers, we have training, technical assistance and R&D
3)      For limited provision of agro inputs, we have fertiliser and R&D
4)      For relatively long draught, we have irrigation

It seems to me that for the problem of rapid growth in population, there is no recommended solution. Supporting food production increase in Africa should be stated as problem rather than a solution.

The same goes to reducing poverty, enhancing food security and self-sufficiency. This topic should also be classified as a problem to be solved and not a solution.

As to the joint-venture proposal among member nations, managing buffer stocks and encouraging food trade among member nations, we only need political will.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Paradigm Shift

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Regional Conference in Manila, Philippines on 4th October 1994.

Wrong Ideas

Upon reflection, I conclude that as far as food is concerned, we have erred for two specific reasons:

1) We have been influenced by the idea of Thomas Malthus
2) We have been guided by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is a city idea to measure the rise in the price of food supplied from the rural areas.

Thomas Malthus

Thomas Malthus’s theory on population, whereby he predicted that population will grow by geometric progression while food increases by arithmetical progression should not be read in isolation from his endorsement of war, diseases and famine as legitimate happenings to reduce population and, therefore, leave enough food for those who survive.

These are wicked ideas.

The Western world, having accepted Thomas Malthus’s theory, have proceeded to grow more and more food until there is now enough food in the world for all but due to mal-distribution, people are still dying of hunger.

Consumer Price Index

Excessive growing of food in rural areas is good for the city consumers as prices will fall due to excess supply, when measured by the CPI criteria.

General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT)

However, to compensate for the decrease in income of the good growers, subsidies are provided by governments. This becomes a problem when rectifying GATT.

Being influenced by Professor Joan Robinson of London School of Economic and Professor Karl Schiller of Hamburg University, Malaysia moved away from Thomas Malthus’s product-oriented agriculture to people-oriented agriculture.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Poverty Alleviation in East and South East Asia

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during DSE and IFPRI Conference in Kuala Lumpur on 3rd October 1994.

Redefinition of Poverty

In order to widen the scope of activity, the Ministry of Agriculture has redefined poverty or relative poverty as not to mean poverty of income alone but inclusive of thought, health, sight, hearing, taste, smell and emotion.

Poverty of taste resulted in international cooking courses organised by Malaysia Agriculture Research Development Institute (MARDI) for wives of farmers and fishermen.

Poverty of hearing needed music and good advice, resulting with the formation of the Farmers’ Symphony Orchestra.

Poverty of sight resulted in the collection of used spectacles by WIPER – World Institute for Poverty Eradication.

There are many people with money and status but still unhappy. There are many poor people who have come out of poverty but lived in a poor quality of life. They still do not appreciate sports, music, recreation, good taste, flowers and beautiful landscape. We must be careful of individuals and institutions who are interested in eradicating poverty.

There is a scheme in a village in Langkawi, Malaysia whereby the poor can borrow money to finance their small businesses. These loans are not repaid from the borrowers’ income but from new and bigger loans. This is considered as 100 per cent repayment of such loans. The poor will be in perpetual indebtedness under this scheme. They will remain poor.

Poverty of Choice

The poor, however, do not choose to be poor. They do not know what to choose to come out of poverty. As the poor cannot be lectured on poverty eradication, they need to really see their choices in order to change themselves.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Towards 2010

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Conference in Rome, Italy on 6th November 1993.

Serious Thought

Based on our experiences in reducing poverty and similar experiences of other nations, we can call upon member nations to give serious thought to the establishment of WIPER which is acronym for World Institute for Poverty Eradication.


I have mentioned WIPER at CIRDAP Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, at the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and Pacific in Beijing, China in April 1990 and also in the last 26th FAO Conference in November 1991. In fact, the AARRO Conference which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 1992 had unanimously adopted the resolution which called for the establishment of WIPER among member countries.

Independent Training Institution

The proposal to establish WIPER signifies the seriousness in the commitment of the government vis – รก – vis poverty eradication programmes in Malaysia, as well as the desire to share Malaysia’s experience in eradicating poverty with other developing countries. The establishment of WIPER would certainly institutionalise and globalise the efforts towards meeting this desire.

In order to accommodate the differences in ideology, culture and economic practices, WIPER in each country, should be an independent and private national training institution; the idea for which can be shared internationally.

The setting up of WIPER and its network would give human development further boost in the light of its increasing realisation as necessary prerequisite for development.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

An Auspicious Year

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Conference in Rome, Italy on 1st November 1991.

Being a popular subject, poverty was secularised by politicians in Britain after the Industrial Revolution. Since then, poverty has become a subject not for the church but for politicians and academicians.

Malaysia has decided to give a religious commitment to poverty so that the interest in the subject does not merely end with an election victory or for the purpose of completing a thesis.

Eradication of poverty should be a divine mission.

Human Development

The elimination of poverty is also synonymous to the elimination of bondage – whether bondage of men or men or of nations. There can be no real freedom of men or nations when there is poverty. Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish economist, wrote in 1876:

“Man moves

from bondage to spiritual faith,

from spiritual faith to great courage,

from courage to liberty,

from liberty to abundance,

from abundance to selfishness,

from selfishness to complacency,

from complacency to apathy,

from apathy to dependency,

from dependency back again to bondage.”