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.
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:
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,
New Economic Policy
Malaysia will continue with its efforts to eradicate poverty as it had been undertaken during the country’s earlier 20 year New Economic Policy. With the reduction in the incidence of poverty, we are now paying attention to relative poverty and the remaining hardcore poverty. Through our experience and that of other nations in reducing poverty, we are planning the establishment of the World Institute for Poverty Eradication or WIPER.
To accommodate the differences in ideology, culture and democratic practises, WIPER, in each country, should be an independent, private and national training institution; the idea for which can be shared internationally.
Our experiences, as well as those of other nations, will be institutionalised in the hope that WIPER will eventually wipe out poverty. When WIPER exists in more than one country, there can be an exchange of experiences, techniques and methodologies.
WIPER may seek funding from private, national and international agencies.