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.”

Monday, May 31, 2010

Poverty in Democracy

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Regional Conference in New Delhi, India on 10th February 1991.

Quality of Life

The quality of life of our farmers, breeders and fishermen should be measured in the following terms:

1) Adequate, tasty and quality food
2) Sporting activities for health and recreation
3) Clean and beautiful environment
4) Music and culture
5) Proper housing and dressing

We should try to introduce quality as a stimulating or motivating factor. A man with increased income will not but a violin but a man who is interested in playing the violin will struggle to increase his income to buy one. We know that married couples do not voluntarily plan their family to improve their income but a couple with good income will voluntarily plan their family.

Man before Commodity

If it is possible to change our approach to agriculture from ‘commodity before man’ to ‘man before commodity’, it should also be possible to change our approach to life from ‘income before quality of life’ to ‘quality of life before income’. It is for these reasons that:

1) Malaysian rural women are taught international cooking
2) Sports are organised for farmers and fishermen
3) Landscape competitions are organised nationwide to turn villages into beautiful gardens
4) Musicians identified among farmers resulting in the formation of ‘Farmers’ Symphony Orchestra’
5) Agro theatre
6) Extension work organised to improved sewing and other skills for women and men
7) Better homes

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Pacific Century

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during FAO Regional Conference in Beijing, China on 23rd April 1990.


There is a need for an integrated idea for poverty eradication. Each nation has its own success and failures in the effort to alleviate poverty. The successful efforts of every nation should be integrated into an instrument to wipe out poverty. To do so, we need WIPER of the World Institute for Poverty Eradication.

An Independent National Organisation

A WIPER in each nation is a national organisation without an international bureaucratic control. It is in line with the Five Principle of Peaceful Coexistence. Only the idea and purpose should be global. There should be an exchange of information and experience among the WIPERs of the world. A WIPER is a training institute. WIPER students of any age should have experienced poverty and not just read about it.

WIPER in the Ghettos

A national unit of WIPER can open its courses to foreign participants. It is up to the initiative of each individual WIPER. The poor of any country should be trained to help themselves. The staff of the institute can be selected from the international community of nations.

Public and private institutions in any country as well as international organisations concerned for the poor should support WIPER. There is a need for a WIPER in every nation as even in developed nations including the United States where there are 19 million people who are deemed politically insignificant and living in ghettos.

It is imperative not only for poor nations to be assisted by the rich; poor people in rich nations should also be helped by rich people in poor nations for poverty is universal.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Run Any Organisation

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during the AARRO Conference in Accra, Ghana on 16th March 1990.


At the CIRDAP meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam in December last year, I had said that many changes have taken place in politics, science, social developments and natural calamities. In politics, there is only Vietnam now and there is to be one Germany soon.

In science, it is worthwhile to note that in 1900, it took over two months to travel around the world by steamboats and railroads. In 1950, the same trips could be made in four days by a propeller driven airplane. In 1980, it took only twenty four hours to go around the world in a supersonic jet. By 1999, when an aircraft capable of exiting that atmosphere could well be in operation, the time needed to circle the globe will be reduced to minutes. Futurists are of the opinion that great advances will be made in the world in the fields of:

1)      Communication
2)      Robotics
3)      Bioengineering
4)      Medicine

While futurists talk of these advances, they are normally referring to great changes in the future in the advanced countries. For developing countries, like most of us, we are still bogged down with poverty. We still talk about the need for:

1)      Food
2)      Clothing
3)      Shelter

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Of Human Values

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during the CIRDAP Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam on 7th December 1989.
The Rich

Malaysia acknowledges that poverty contributes towards environmental decline but it is only because the poor are unable to help themselves. If they are denied a few natural resources that they still have, they will become poorer and would cause even greater environmental degradation. On the other hand, the rich can afford not only to reduce their waste-generating lifestyle but can expand more on reforestation of the agricultural land they had wrested from the forests. With their technology and wealth, they can make millions of acres of desert bloom.

The Poor Minorities

CIRDAP member nations comprise countries where the experience of poverty is still real and not just intellectual. The World Food Survey pegged the number of undernourished at not less than 500 million people. They need food.

Poverty has put a strangle hold on the harmonious application of the divine rule. As humans, we need shelter for rest, clean water to drink and clean environment for generation of oxygen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

20-11-1989- Food and Environment

This post is an extract of the speech delivered during the FAO Conference in Rome, Italy on 20th November 1989.

Trade, Debt and Poverty

In November 1987, in this hall, I mentioned about free trade as the best thing that can happen in this world. The link between trade, debt and poverty must be re-compromised. However, as exporting nations become importers of industrial products, restrictions are imposed on imports. It is even worse when industrial nations become competitors in the export agriculture products with poor agricultural nations.

It is an irony that while the developing countries are making every effort to make some headway in their export of agricultural products at competitive prices, without the benefit of heavy subsidies and other supports, various new barriers are being put up in disguised forms to limit their accessibility to some markets.

The barriers include the form of germinating fear in the minds of consumers by propagating that the products are hazardous to health and by providing producer subsidies under the guise of food aid.

There had been an incident when a Malaysian scientist, on a scholarship, wrote a doctoral thesis on vegetable oils and fats. He was not allowed to submit his findings following objection by the association representing another rival vegetable oil that funded the faculty.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

09-11-1989- A Besieged World

This post is an extract of the speech that was delivered during the AMAF Meeting in Singapore on 9th November 1989.


We can consider ourselves fortunate that as developing nations, we have always been confronting issues, mostly created by developed nations, as a united front in a determined and concerted manner.

We have always been unanimous in our desire and untiring efforts to overcome these issues to ensure that our people have a better quality of life. We recognise that we have to unite to confront these issues just as we need these issues for our unity.

Rural Development

Given the important role of agriculture and food production in our economies, the responsibility we have before us is definitely quite daunting. The task of rural development is a continuing and increasing challenge.

Nevertheless, I am confident that with unity and determination, it should not be insurmountable. So long as we do not depart from the goals and aspirations we have for our people, strengthened by the spirit of ASEAN cooperation and solidarity that have been clearly demonstrated, we can achieve our targets and objectives to face the future with confidence.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

11-08-1989 - A Sharing World

This post is an extract of the speech that was delivered during the Asia Pacific Forum in Yakima, United States of America on 11th August 1989.

Conditions for Success

I am tempted to suggest that there are three conditions for economic success:

1) Lose a war as Japan, South Korea and Germany
2) Enjoy foreign military protection as Japan, South Korea and Germany
3) Exploit the United States market.

I am not preaching for a Third World War. Far from it, I do believe that world peace and free trade are keys to global prosperity.


Poverty exists among the rice growers, fishermen, rubber and coconut small-holders. It is not our policy to grow crops or rear animals that we can import cheaper.

We will therefore eschew growing more rice, maize or sugar. We will continue importing fruits and will not go into cattle rearing in a big way. We will, however, cut back on the import of mutton. We will grow more local fruits for export while continuing to import those that cannot be economically grown in our country.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

07-12-1987 - FOOD SECURITY

This speech was delivered during the Conference on Food Security in the Muslim World organized by the Islamic Academy of Science in Amman, Jordon on 7th December, 1987.

Food Security


I would urge that all committees of the Organization of Islamic Countries ( OIC ) to start moving. They need not necessarily move in the same direction, but they should move. The action should be coordinated to create a balance, as indeed, our limbs of the same sides move in opposite directions at any time - to create a balance. A balance is necessary as the late Umar Mokhtar reiterated when he was fighting Italian forces under fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.

However, we should not balance by standing still. We should balance while in motion.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This speech was delivered during the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference in Rome, Italy on 12th November, 1987.

Global Wealth In Poverty

The majority of the world's population are in the poorer countries or in countries classified as poor. Should there be a voting on a one-man one vote basis to form a world government ( God forbids ), it would be definitely clear that the poorer people of the world will triumph. The riches accumulated in the world should be made to recycle through trade in order that there is global peace.


In historical perspectives, interdependency between nations is rational, relevant and the only way - for empires and civilizations in Asia, Africa and Europe have collapsed without the leaders of those societies ever predicting that their future citizens would be participants in today's FAO forums.

Friday, January 22, 2010

20-10-1985 - THE NICOTINE WAR

This speech was delivered during a seminar on 'Action on Smoking and Health' held in Kuala Lumpur on 20th October, 1985.

The Nicotine War

Taxi Driver

I was 12 years old when my father died on March 18, 1956, at a young age of 37. To this day I am still unaware as to the real cause of his death since I was at a boarding school when he became sick. I still have a driving license photograph of him with swollen lips. Some people said he died of tuberculosis. Whatever it might have been, it is obvious tha he had been ill for sometime.