THE PEACE AND

A de­ci­sive phase in the bat­tle against var­i­ous in­sur­gen­cies may have fi­nally ar­rived

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

IATTENDED a talk mid-week in Kuch­ing by Sarawak-born econ­o­mist, Wee Ai Chin, who spent most of her ca­reer with the United Na­tions (UN), the World Bank and the Mani­l­abased Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, and who is now pas­sion­ate about her as­so­ci­a­tion with the Magsaysay-awarded out­fit, Gawad Kalinga and its projects, turn­ing des­ti­tute Filipino fam­i­lies into so­cial en­trepreneurs.

A life­time spent mostly abroad has ob­vi­ously im­bued in Wee, lately, an un­der­stand­able yearn­ing to put her in­valu­able work ex­pe­ri­ences to some use, giv­ing back to her home state. But what and how, ex­actly, to con­trib­ute may be the per­ti­nent ques­tion for her, back home.

It is, of course, not as if we face no poverty in Sarawak or in Malaysia. Pock­ets of poverty ex­ist in even the most eco­nom­i­cally ad­vanced coun­tries.

But the fol­low-up dis­cus­sions af­ter the talk re­vealed, per­haps, an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent set of chal­lenges that ex­ist here than in, say, the Philip­pines, for those who may con­sider it their life­work or a worth­while and se­ri­ous vol­un­tary past-time to work on be­half of the poor.

There is said to be gen­eral ap­a­thy com­ing from some tar­geted groups.

Oth­ers felt it is best to leave it all to gov­ern­ment. My gen­eral sense is that even among our poor, there are a rather spoilt and picky bunch — with a cer­tain lux­ury of choice, even of who they pre­fer to help them!

No such luck ap­par­ently for the poor in the Philip­pines. Wee spoke of how Gawad Kalinga does not ex­actly pick who it works with and for.

Those poor it helps are “self­picked”, mean­ing they must show an ini­tial ap­ti­tude to want to be helped.

There ap­pears plenty who want to be helped. Those without such ap­ti­tude are left to their own de­vices, and mis­ery.

Which prob­a­bly begs the ques­tion: why are there so many — of the poor, that is in the Philip­pines?

The coun­try has rich vol­canic soils, the pick of min­er­als be­neath them and equally rich fish­eries in the seas cov­er­ing the ar­chi­pel­ago of over 7,000 is­lands. And Filipino work­ers are prized for their dili­gence and tal­ents all across the globe.

An an­swer may have ar­rived

EPA PIC

Filipino sol­diers tak­ing their po­si­tion fol­low­ing re­ports of al­leged fresh clashes be­tween gov­ern­ment troops and rebels in Marawi City, Min­danao Is­land, south­ern Philip­pines, yes­ter­day.

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