Impressions from the Poverty Alleviation experience in MalaysiaSalamat Datang! [Archives:2005/852/Culture]

June 20 2005

By Hooria Mashour
For the Yemen Times

I used to think, prior to visiting Malaysia and coming in direct contact with the Malaysian development experience, that what this country has done in terms of economical progress and political stability in South Asia is a miracle. Perhaps a miracle so unique that is impossible to be replicated else where. However, the invitation I received from the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP), Economic Planning Unit in Prime Minister's Department in Autumn 2003 to share the Malaysian experience changed my perception 180 degrees. The invitation was to attend the training course titled “Poverty Alleviation-Localizing the Anti-Poverty Agenda: The Malaysian Experience”, and was organized by the Institute for Rural Advancement (INFRA). It has given me a chance to see the impact of the political and economic plans in real life, the results of this miracle were tangible facts visible wherever we went in Malaysia and whatever we heard or saw.

Facing the challenges:

The lecturers presented the economic development and growth Malaysia has achieved since independence in 1959, inline with its development year 2020 vision. The Malaysian policies and the political commitment to overcome the many challenges was most admirable. The fact that the country depended on its own national resources in building the economy was astonishing. The magical word was through adopting the most effective administrative methods in implementing projects, and this is what carried the country through the financial crises years 1998 and 2001 enforcing the economical growth right from the next year to the crises.

Visiting Johore:

If I were to identify the most interesting and enjoyable part of the visit, it would be our stop in Johore. In this southern village of Malaysia we came across some practical projects run by the poor on individual or collective basis. What impressed me the most is that women are targeted by these projects and that they work in flexible environments in their homes using domestic labor. This way, women are given the advantage of fulfilling their domestic chores while being economically productive at the same time. Poor women are provided with small credits and technical assistance to support them in their projects whether in the production process or in marketing and selling their products.

Salamat Datang:

In order to get a sense of the Malaysian family life we spent a night with a Malaysian family in Johore. The hosting of foreigners and accommodating tourists in native homes was another means of income for some of the families. Where the host families generated additional income by accommodating and entertaining the guests, it has enabled the families to improve their life and to become more business-oriented. It was an opportunity for us to become closely acquainted with the Malaysian culture and traditions. It was quite amusing how in spite of our different languages and cultures we were able to communicate and understand each other, at least when we exchange the magic words “Selamat Datang” to express our happiness and the lovely feeling of being at home with the host family. This words welcome the visitors and tourists call them to fall in love with Malaysia and to definitely plan to revisit this charming country once again.

Touring Malaysia:

Although our visit to Malaysia was intended to be a learning experience, our program involved visiting a number of tourist attractions. We enjoyed visiting many marvelous sites and places such the museum in Malaka, the mosques in Putra Jaya, the new modern city and many other beautiful places.

The fascinating memories and impressions I retained about the places and kind people provide me the enthusiasm to benefit from the Malaysian learning experience. The knowledge and skills I gained from that training course have given me an insight to consider Malaysia as a module of rapid advancement and in involving women in the public life and political life, as we found women present everywhere.

Thank you Malaysia:

On a more personal note, after this lovely experience I've decided to maintain my link with Malaysia through having my daughter in KL. Because of feeling safe and secure during my stay in Malaysia as well as because of becoming familiar with the culture and traditions, I convinced my daughter and her husband to travel to this beautiful country to study there and enjoy the taste of the Malaysian beauty and warm versatile Asian culture, believing that Malaysia is truly Asia.