Skip to content

Is Malaysia Third World, Revisited (TLDR Edition)

September 20, 2011

Well. Yes. Here we go again. For some bizarre reason, people really do search for “Malaysia Third World” et cetera, and that old post became the most viewed thing on this little underside-drainpipe of braincrap. So here’s a revisit.

No Uncyclopedia this time.

First things first – to properly define what Third World really is. LMGTFY.

Wow. Sure sounds like a shithole.

Perhaps Wikipedia has a less biased and offensive definition:

The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World), or communism and Asia(which along with its allies represented the Second World).

Non-aligned with capitalism? Malaysia? Excuse me, I just snorted my designer latte out my nose.

Sidetrack: these terms are in themselves a little annoying – first, second and third does imply hierarchy after all, as in gold, silver and bronze. Like as if these First World Countries are all mighty and superior in every way. It does contribute to a kind of love-hate feeling, I think, where the so called “Third World” thinks the “First World” is all arrogant and derisive and superior on the one hand; but on the other, would give its right leg (and arm and testicle) to become “First World”. And the “First World” might go all “oh, they are all savages over there, living in the trees and such” but most compassionately contribute to the eradication of polio, malaria and suchlike (thank you, Mr Gates). Nevertheless!

Where were we? Wiki delving reveals the original Third World concept to be more of a Cold War era geopolitical definition of non-alignment, that is, neither American (capitalists!) nor Soviet (commies! … I mean, socialists!). Still, the local definition seems to have more of a negative connotation closer to the euphemistic “Developing Nation” – which is really just a nice way to say “you don’t have it as good as us, nyah nyah nyah”.

But that’s not the point. Is Malaysia a Third World Country? Well, the key (Wikipedia) definition is “non-aligned with capitalism and communism”. Considering the fact that the South East Asia region is in fact one of the most important sea routes in the world (along with the Panama Canal), leaning a little too far to the “Blue” or the “Red” is actually a little risky. I mean, you don’t wanna fall off, not when the other side can swoop in to ‘liberate’ you if you’ve insulted their mommas. Still, we’ve got free markets and McDonalds aplenty, although there is a gentle whiff of Marx in the dirt-cheap education and general healthcare available to the public. And, of course, until recently, the less fragrant one party state. Oh, and price controls.

So, the answer. Within this definition, I would say… yes. But  methinks that’s not what the people who search for this stuff are looking for.

The more accurate question then is whether Malaysia is a developing country. Is Malaysia any better than Uganda and Botswana? There are people who will insist that it is, but I doubt little old me can change their minds. But who makes these definitions anyway? Wikipedia gives us the Human Development Index (HDI), which says that we’re actually doing pretty well – we’re on the level directly below “Developed Country” which I suppose does indicate something.

The calculation of the HDI is based on several key points: life expectancy, education and income.

On life expectancy – not too shabby. Theoretically we’re training bundles of young doctors so we can presume this will increase, unless all the young doctors head off to, say, Namibia (or the opposite thereof).

Education – even with the astounding quality of local public education, in terms of years of education I think we do pretty well. Anyway, I won’t elaborate on this much.

Income – ok, we fail. The pay is rather crap over here. It’s not actually about income; the key is purchasing power. Cheap food is cheap, yes. Although it’s also likely to give us diabetes and heart disease which obviously lowers life expectancy. But that’s about the only thing in this country that is easily afforded. Want a house? Want a *snort* car?  Though I won’t elaborate further on this either; this is better fodder for woolgathering on a later date.

This is really getting TL:DR, so just two more sentences to go, okay?

So, is Malaysia really Third World? Here and there, perhaps, but not as much as you might think.


From → Categorised

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: