To continue with the matter of the economic factors that is triggering off the socio-political unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, in addition to the issue of unemployment, we have to also be mindful of the issue of income inequality or, the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
The matter of the rich-poor gap is beyond the mandate of economic planners. This is a matter that falls squarely in the domain of political leaders.
Economic planners can merely point out the dangers of the rich-poor gap. But, greedy and avaricious political leaders who are interested in making themselves, their family and crony friends rich will ignore the warning of the hapless economists.
This rich-poor gap is increasing in Malaysia.
Of course, the rich-poor gap is not unique to Malaysia. In fast-developing economies like China and Vietnam the gap will increase very fast before narrowing over time. But, countries like China and Vietnam are unleashing years of languid development. There is a sense of being in a hurry.
In contrast, Malaysia is at an economic developmental crossroad. Too expensive to be in labour-intensive activities and, yet, not skilled enough to get into high value-added and innovative knowledge-based activities.
In Malaysia's current position, the rich-poor gap is discomfiting. Unless Malaysia's political leaders address this issue urgently, this rich-poor gap may cause socio-political tension over time.
My biggest fear is that such tension will be distorted by stupid Malaysian politicians who will frame the issue in terms of race when the issue is actually one of poor ethics and abusive governance.
Anyway, read what Kenneth Rogoff has written in the sidelines of the Davos summit here.