"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

The United Nations

BBC Radio 4 - Moral Maze, The United Nations

"The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Professor Philip Ralston, has reported on the poorest and most benighted countries in the world but seems to have saved his harshest criticism for us. We're a disgrace he says. The poverty in our country, Professor Ralston said last week was a social calamity and an economic disaster. And he had no doubt who was to blame. The government's approach is punitive, mean spirited and often callous.

Coming from the UN's leading expert on these issues whose other recent reports have been generally approving of China and even had some good things to say about that dirt poor bastion of modern slavery Mauritania made it particularly incendiary. The government called it inappropriate and chose to regard it as politically motivated...

There are 20% of people who are, they use the word poverty. I would say poor, struggling to make ends meet. What my real problem with this, though, the use of the word poverty, is that if you use the word poverty, about people who have, for example, smartphones, 95% of young people have smartphones, 95%. If you say 20% of the people are in poverty, what phrase do you have left to describe people around the world who are say, people who are now emigrating from Venezuela, with no food at all, and eating yucca roots to survive? What word do you have left for them?...

Some years ago, I tried to follow for a journalistic assignment in the footsteps of Rowntree, went around New York, and so on and so forth. And what I found deeply shocked me. Because what I found was a great deal of material plenty. But people who were unable, as you were suggesting, to participate properly in the life of the country, because of things like very poor education, because of poor impulse control, because they were the they were the victims themselves of family breakdown, they couldn't cope with life.

In other words, it's not simply a matter of material, what people have in material possessions. And that is not picked up in these exaggerated descriptions of, you know, 20% in poverty… is it about people not having enough to get by?

Or is it about inequality? I mean, isn't isn't it the case that we confuse poverty with inequality? This business of relative poverty, for example, I mean, relative poverty means the poor are always with us. Because as a society increases it's, you know, as people get more wealthy, people are always going to be relatively poor. So it's a kind of built in metric of disaster. And it keeps people like you in business...

‘It shouldn't be a body purely of states. I think one of the fundamental architectural problems of the UN is it perpetuates the fantasy that states can solve the problems of the world. 80% of the conflicts in the world on the UN Security Council's agenda, are not between states - they’re within states, they are transnational, they involve movements all over the world. If you're going to solve those problems, you need to include the actors concerned. But you also need to include all kinds of diverse groups, you need to open the doors to the people who can actually fix it rather than just talking to other diplomats and writing bits of paper.’...

'The list of the UN's failures is much, is not just a list of a few failures. It's endemic. For example, systematic corruption, the oil for food program in Iraq, paedophilia by African peacekeepers, the disappearance of the UN funds for Indonesia in the tsunami relief, procurement bribery. The list goes on and on. This is endemic in the UN'...

Isn't it fundamentally anti Western, this rapporteur on poverty is but the latest example. The rapporteur on racism denounced Britain as having historically rooted structures of exclusion and discrimination. This is Marxist claptrap. The rapporteur on violence on women said in 2014, the UK had the most sexist culture in the world. This is a country with human rights, equality for women. What on earth is this person talking about? The reporter on housing said that the withdrawal of the spare bedroom subsidy here was a violation of human rights. This is a farce"
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