by azly rahman
As a student of Globalisation and Human Consequences and one who also teaches related courses such as Global Issues and the American Experience, I am intrigued by the latest development of Malaysia; that, as reported, over a period of three years, 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers are going to be brought in, I suppose as contract labourers working on construction projects.
My first question is: what actually is Malaysia’s policy of national infrastructural development at a time when the economy is going through a massive heart attack and if plans to further engage in real estate projects will help the country move from the Intensive Care Unit to the mortuary?
Bringing in half a million workers a year seems like something planned not only for economic purposes, but for political gains of the ruling regime; gains we are yet to ascertain as the next general election approaches.
What national infrastructural blueprint have we constructed that necessitate such a large number of workers whose life and times will mirror that of those working in places such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar (under heavy criticism on the inhuman treatment of foreign workers as the preparation for a World Cup is under way.)
Where are these additional 500,000 per year Bangladeshis going to be properly housed as major cities such as Kuala Lumpur becomes massively urbanised and plagued with massive issues of ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ of the dehumanised urbanites?
Have we not done any studies, inspired for example by the Model of Futurism, to anticipate (via Scenario Building, Futures Wheel Modelling, Simulation exercise, etc.) what will happen to society when a massive influx of migrant workers are brought in to a city that is already choking with the smog and social ills brought about by the urban decay and the ever growing enclaves of dehumanised habitats as a consequence of previous waves of modern migration?
What actually is going to happen to the city of Kuala Lumpur (and other major ones such a Johor Baru as well) and how will such a planned migration to the idea of national development and national identity of ‘Malaysiana’ we have been talking about for decades before we got addicted to cheap foreign labour?
Who is going to lose in the long run? Who is gaining in the short period of time? What will the children of Malaysia inherit?
Constructing their own developmental agenda
Can’t we tell countries such as Bangladesh to get their act together and stop agreeing to send their people to work in Malaysia and instead use their brains to help construct their own national developmental agenda using their own resources - skilled labour in this case? Become socialist communist states, if these countries must - use their workers and farmers to build their nation.
Granted that globalisation is a complex phenomena and one nation’s benefit as master surfers of it can be another nation’s slave ship, but let us at least (for Malaysia) form a special ‘council of concerned experts’ (if you must call them,) to think of the human consequences of blindly following the road to serfdom, this unthinking profit-motif capitalist agenda, this addiction to human labour of other nationals’ blood, sweat, tears, and fears - these issues discussed thoroughly, so that we may have a clearer picture of how our society will be impacted.
I don’t know. We don’t even know who is running the country these days.
All we are seeing is a nation not only in a bipolar state but moving towards tripolarist quadrophenic-phobic-kaleidoscopic-catatonic state in a world increasingly totalitarian and violent, irrespective of which national ideology is governing each nation, state, or ‘nation-state’.
Hard times ahead?
What then must we do - at least for the sake of our children?