PKR's Nurul Izzah Anwar says it is important that the government honestly and sincerely admits the real problem facing Malaysia with regard to poverty.
The Rakyat Post: Govt’s poverty measurement outdated, claims Nurul Izzah

By Hamzah Nazari

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2, 2014: Nurul Izzah Anwar has accused Umno of “hiding” the number of Malaysians living in poverty behind misleading statistics despite claims of reducing it to less than 1%.

Citing a recent report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the PKR vice-president said, in a statement, that it “painted a different story” altogether.

The Malaysian Human Development Report 2013 showed that relative poverty in Malaysia had increased since 2007 with one in five households or 20%, considered poor in 2012.

“The figures released by the report clearly show just how meaningless and futile the measurement of absolute poverty is.”

She added this figure was much higher than in the United States where it was 122% of the Gross Domestic Income or 78% of their GDP in the first quarter of last year. The Lembah Pantai Member of Parliament added that household debt compared with disposable income which stood at 140% or 86.8% of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product, was at an extremely worrying level.

Nurul Izzah also pointed out that according to a recent report, 10,000 Malaysian employers were still failing to implement the minimum wage of RM900.

She also said the cost of living would increase, claiming that the Goods and Services Tax, which would be introduced in April next year, would have a multiplier effect.

The majority of Malaysians were low income earners, she argued, considering that only 14% of employees were eligible for taxation in 2013 compared with other developed countries, where it was as high as 70-80%.

She said salaries and wages made up less than 30% of Malaysia’s GDP.

“According to the the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, a household is considered poor if the monthly income is less than RM830. This number is meaningless.

“This is an outdated way of measuring poverty and I again strongly urge the government to use alternative methods which are gaining worldwide acceptance, ie measuring the relative poverty or using multi-dimensional poverty index.”

Nurul Izzah explained that relative poverty measured the extent to which a household income falls compared with the level of a country’s economy.

“This measure is more reflective of the state of the country. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) measures the levels of deprivation at an individual level.

“They are measured by the dimensions of health, education and quality of life.

“This index can be used to give a more transparent description about the livelihood of those affected by poverty, and the comparisons across ethnicity, rural or urban and other demographics.”

She said as was evident in the UNDP report, it was important for the government to honestly and sincerely admit the real problem faced by Malaysia.

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It is essential that Malaysia continues to prioritise inclusive growth and social cohesion, and moves forward with the second generation policies that are needed to support this.
-Frances Stewart