The Curse of the Dream, The Cloud of Loss in Rural Malaysia
Humidity clouds the air. Aye, I'm back in the palm oil plantations for a visit back to a part of my family roots. Tall majestic trees and a hastily dug pit filled with stagnant oily water, a visual from a dark scenery of some forgotten feudal war movie.
Folks living near Sungai Pelek, whether at the makeshift jetty or the plantations, are sturdy folks. "Kampung" (village) people with livelihoods tied to the sea and farms. Many are still struggling against the tide of development, that wishful curse of capitalism and promises of a better life.
I see and meet some who have tasted the better life, here and there. Though all are submerged in the terrible price hike, the high cost of living. Housing has always been a concern, land is growing unaffordable while the cost of food has jumped beyond their means. Poverty is common, particularly in rural Malaysia. Any educated fool, sitting in a comfortable office in Kuala Lumpur, would know this as reality but most urban folks prefer to continue living in the illusion of comfort.
Education for the rural children seems to be a standard template of bureaucracy, where the young are ingrained with propaganda that they have opportunities in the 'real world' when they grow up. Far from the truth, I've seen generations face the cycle of misery, this constant poverty served to the poor. Elitism is kept jealously, sustained by the Malaysian bourgeois in a race-based fantasy. The rural poor are kept ostracised, and given pittance, to ensure the procreation of obedience. There are no luxuries in the palm oil plantations, and the fishing hamlets offer no way out for the marginalized.
Malaysians, about 28 million, living in a realm blessed with rich natural resources although controlled by the elitist few. Aye, that 1% Malaysians who can afford a RM110 million condo unit in the US, while some buy property in developed countries seemingly like buying candies.
Tell that to those working in the plantations. Tell that to those who break their backs to earn a meager wage with no savings and no healthcare plans. You won't be surprised at their anger. They're stuck in this backward life, where sadly their children will continue working in utter hopelessness.
Poverty, and loss, cloud this realm, destroying the aspirations of the poor who merely seek a better life for themselves and their struggling families.