12MP: What about the family?

16 Jul 2019 / 19:34 H.

LAST week this column touched on getting the balance right for the 12MP using the 5Ps – planet, prosperity and people through partnership for peace to restore human dignity and justice globally. Failing to observe and balance the 5Ps will gravely impact the “people” dimension because it is now at tipping point. This can be deduced from the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are mainly directed to solving issues affecting humanity in concert with the environment and economy.

From among them, there is one aspect that seems to stand out as the most vulnerable. Namely, the family unit which humans are dependent on from birth and more often than not shape and fashion the human identity. Ranging from lifetime habits, values and decorum as well as the capacity to move forward in search of balance and harmony within the context of the self. The family unit remains as a reference for almost everyone except those who lost their parents after birth due to tragic circumstances associated with ill-health and diseases, violence or just being “irresponsible”.

It is the last point that warrants our concern since it is the most troublesome according to high ranking sources in the government. Going by several media and news reports, they point to factors that may affect sustainability of the family unit.

For example, it is not just about divorce, but how frequent and how trivial they have been made to be. Allegedly the number of divorce cases within the first five years of marriage has rocketed.

Celebrities and people in high places are no longer “ashamed” to be caught in “scandals” leading to family break-ups. Some seem to relish the event as “publicity stunts” in promoting visibility and ratings.

As for abuses, they are not confined to verbal or even physical, but are increasingly sexual in nature. And the heinous crimes are not just localised but reach across borders involving human trafficking with “sexploitation” and “sextortion” making the headlines.

Those curious about the virtual world of technology and eager to seek instant gratification, especially the young and innocent, risk falling prey to paedophiles.

The family unit is getting more and more vulnerable as we “progress”. What is more given the mounting pressure to make ends meet, some family members are forced into prostitution, drug abuse and serious crime just to survive. And many of these activities go unreported.

Nothing new about these except that the reach is hydra-like, extending its tentacles beyond the grasp of any dying family unit to deal with. Some say it is a price tag for what we call progress and development of the “materialistic” (unsustainable) kind which is dehumanising (not balanced) from the start.

As pointed out by the deputy minister of women, family and community development, while the ministry is given RM10 million to iron out such issues, other ministries are getting much more based on techno-entrepreneurial and economic projects.

Those who are victims from‎ broken families will be the last to benefit from such projects, if they ever have the chance to be considered at all. And if they have, they will be the least prepared to succeed through no fault of their own.

One is curious to know if the National Entrepreneurial Policy has anything to say about this, and suggest ways to restore if not strengthen the existing structure of the family unit.

After all, family units are the basic thrust to being entrepreneurial as illustrated by many iconic case studies. It takes a robust and coherent family unit to launch itself successfully into the business world of dog eat dog. Even then the success rate is unpredictable unless the skills to cope and become resilient are adequately provided for. Otherwise what is there for those from broken homes?

In the context of the B40, the argument cannot be dissimilar. What is more in the world of IT haunted by digital divides of language, facilities and know-how impeding their limited resources and capacity. Add to it the finding that the lower socio-economic group is most prone to be “addicted” to the devices and gadgets; notably underaged boys.

The above is merely the tip of the iceberg that can rock the 12MP boat in delivering “shared prosperity” beyond that of economic wealth. Ironically, the latter may well be the cause if the family unit is kept frail and poorly supported to take its rightful place under the New Malaysia sun. It is for this reason that the 12MP must reflect a harmonious balance at all levels, but not at the expense of the family.

With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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