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90 Million at Risk of Poverty... PDF Print E-mail
Written by admin   
Thursday, 22 October 2020 15:24

90 million at risk of poverty

Economic fallout from Covid-19 could push huge number currently on brink to fall into financial hardship

The world has made great strides in alleviating poverty in the past few decades. However, experts now fear that up to 90 million people worldwide, including hundreds of thousands of Malaysians, will fall into poverty if the Covid-19 crisis drags on.

According to Our World in Data, which conducts research and collates data in efforts to deal with the world’s biggest problems, there were 1.9 billion people living below the poverty line in 1990.

By 2015, it had dropped to 750 million and the figure is expected to decline further to just 500 million by 2030.

In Malaysia, the poverty rate rose from 0.2% to 7.5% but only because the government raised the official poverty line income from RM980 to RM2,208 per month in July 2020.

That leaves about 400,000 households still living below the poverty line.

However, any progress in eradicating poverty is expected to be reversed extensively by the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, economists told theSun.

According to them, a high number of Malaysians continue to hang on just above the poverty line and any crisis could easily push them through the cracks.

Sunway University Business School professor of economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said any type of economic hardship, such as that caused by Covid-19, could easily cause many families to fall into poverty.

“Many families are actually earning just enough to pay for the bare minimum, thus avoiding the ‘poor’ description (given to those living below the poverty line),” Yeah said.

He cited a report by the Khazanah Research Institute that showed about 835,000 Malaysian households earn just about RM2,900 a month, making them extremely vulnerable to an economic shock.

“At RM2,900, it is only RM700 above the official poverty line of RM2,200,” he added.

Another economist, Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai, explained that whether a household stays above or falls below the poverty line depends on the ability to pay for necessities.

“We look at this as a ‘basket of goods’, which should include food, rental, clothing and transport. This is enough to meet a family’s needs,” he said.

However, a loss of income caused by retrenchment or pay cuts could make it more difficult, if not impossible, to afford this basket of goods. When that happens, the family is deemed to have fallen below the poverty line.

“To ensure that a family can have a decent standard of living, their income should be about RM2,900 a month.”

However, he said there is now a need to revise the list of items in that basket of goods because some items that were considered a luxury in the past have become a necessity today. One of these items is access to the internet.

Barjoyai cited a Bank Negara Malaysia report stating that for a family of four to have a decent lifestyle, they need a living wage of at least RM6,000 a month.

But he pointed out that “living wages” differ from “poverty line wages”.

According to Bank Negara, a “living wage” is an income that is sufficient for a household to afford a minimum acceptable living standard, and that would include opportunities to participate in society, the opportunity for personal and family development and freedom from severe financial stress.

Unfortunately, there are many who, although still living above the poverty line, are far from achieving this level.

The economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic could effectively make this unachievable for most.


Source: The Sun Daily

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 October 2020 15:40
UNSR Praises Malaysia for raising PLI, but... PDF Print E-mail
Written by straits-mongrel   
Monday, 13 July 2020 10:40

Former UN Special Rapporteur praises Malaysia for raising poverty line but says updated figure still too low...



In reference to the government's announcement yesterday that the absolute poverty line has been revised from RM980 to RM2,208, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston praised Putrajaya for following through with a commitment to raise the poverty line and give a more accurate picture of the state of poverty in Malaysia.


Malaysia’s poverty line index (PLI) has increased by a whopping five percentage points to 5.6 per cent or 405,441 households from 0.4 per cent or 24,700 households in 2016 after Putrajaya revised its PLI calculation methodology.


In a press statement yesterday, Minister in Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that the current national PLI is RM2,208 a month per household, which has increased by more than double from its previous PLI in 2016 which stood at RM980 per household.


“Malaysia's government has taken a courageous step towards bringing its poverty line closer to reality.

“The line announced today is more than double the previous one and results in an official poverty rate 14 times higher than previously acknowledged,” Alston said in a statement.


He said the challenge now is to systematically address poverty by instituting a comprehensive social protection scheme and to provide greater data transparency, in line with almost all democratic countries.


“The government also needs to take seriously the plight of millions of non-citizens who are disproportionately affected by poverty and excluded from official figures, indigenous people who face severe discrimination and rights violations, and women who have exceptionally low rates of workforce participation,” Alston said.


However, Alston added that the absolute poverty rate of 5.6 per cent under the updated poverty line is still too low and therefore hopes the poverty line will be increased further in future.

“Because the new poverty rate of 5.6 per cent is just one-third of that estimated by almost all independent analyses, I hope that the government will include an even more realistic benchmark in the 12th Malaysia Plan,” he said.



Last Updated on Monday, 13 July 2020 10:55
Malaysia Backtracking on Poverty Commitment PDF Print E-mail
Written by admin   
Monday, 06 July 2020 14:32

Malaysia Backtracking on Poverty Commitment


New York (6 July 2020) – “Malaysia’s new Government has performed a backflip on its predecessors’ commitment to take poverty seriously,” said Philip Alston, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, whose report from an official visit last year was released today.


Following the visit to Malaysia in August 2019, Alston found that the national poverty rate of just 0.4 per cent, the lowest in the world, was based on a statistical sleight of hand. Government officials, including the then-Prime Minister, committed to revising the national poverty line. However, the new Government’s response to Alston’s final report throws that commitment into doubt, stating that it “stands by [the] absolute poverty rate.”


“The Government’s reversal is deeply concerning because the current line is inadequate and almost universally considered to be misleadingly low,” Alston said. “The insistence that the line is ‘derived from internationally accepted standards’ is a smokescreen and ignores the blatant mismatch between reality and statistics. Pretending that almost no-one in the entire country lives in poverty doesn’t change the reality that millions are poor. Saving face is one thing, but distorting the facts is quite another.”


“Malaysia has made impressive progress against poverty in the past forty years, but its continued use of an outdated and unrealistic poverty line obscures the troubling reality that millions scrape by on very low incomes, a situation only made worse by COVID-19.” The national poverty line of RM 980 (US$235) per household per month would see an urban family of four surviving on RM 8 (less than US$2), per person per day.

“If the Government wants to eradicate poverty, revising the poverty line is just step one,” Alston said. “Progress will require a better understanding of the nature of poverty, especially in urban areas, improved social policies, and a new approach towards long-neglected populations that face higher rates of poverty.”


“Millions of non-citizens are disproportionately affected by poverty, including migrants, refugees, stateless people and unregistered Malaysians, who are systematically excluded from official poverty figures, neglected by policymakers and often effectively barred from basic services. Migrant workers make up a sizeable part of the overall population and have been central to the country’s economic success. Yet they have deliberately been left in a regulatory grey zone that facilitates sometimes scandalous abuses and generally poor conditions.”


“Indigenous peoples continue to face discrimination despite laudable commitments to promote their rights. Government officials misunderstand or dismiss their goals and ways of life with alarming regularity.” Indigenous peoples have far higher rates of poverty than the general population and experience widespread violations of their rights, appropriation of their land, and exclusion from social support.


Women in Malaysia shoulder a disproportionate share of housework, have an exceptionally low rate of workforce participation, are disproportionally stuck in lower-level jobs and are paid less than men. And people with disabilities face widespread discrimination and obstacles that prevent them from participating in society on an equal basis with others.


“The Government should institute far-reaching reforms of the fractured and patchy social protection system to ensure that the needs of people living in poverty are comprehensively addressed, with a social protection floor for all,” Alston said. “COVID-19 has demonstrated that anyone can lose a job through no fault of their own, and reinforced the absolute necessity of strong support programs.”


“Key poverty-related data is often inaccessible or even non-existent, which is counterproductive and leaves policymakers and researchers essentially working in the dark. Unlike many comparable countries, Malaysia does not provide full access to household survey microdata, and does not collect information on the size of certain vulnerable populations.”


The former Rapporteur visited Malaysia from 13 to 23 August 2019. He travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Sarawak, Sabah, and Kelantan, and met state and federal Government officials, international agencies, civil society, academics, and people affected by poverty in urban and rural areas. He visited a soup kitchen, a women’s shelter, a children’s crisis centre, low-cost housing flats, a disability centre, indigenous communities and informal settlements and schools.


“Overall, while Malaysia has achieved progress against poverty, unless the new Government takes a different approach, the job will remain painfully incomplete,” Alston said. “The Government has a real opportunity to become a true champion of poverty reduction by improving the lives of many facing hardship, providing those in poverty with the support they need and ensuring that the country’s economic growth is truly inclusive and benefits the entire population.”


Alston’s successor, Olivier De Schutter, is scheduled to present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on 7 July.

A PDF of the statement is available here.

Photos from the visit to Malaysia are available for journalists’ use at

For media requests, contact Rebecca Riddell ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) and Bassam Khawaja ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

The report’s presentation will be live-streamed at

Philip Alston is the John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he chairs the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights between 2014-2020. As Special Rapporteur, he was part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. The current Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights is Olivier De Schutter.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 July 2020 14:42
They are taking away my Chan Ah Tong PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 09:18

cat1In April this year, the government unveiled its plans for Little India in Brickfields, KL. A report in The Star came complete with an artist's impression of the district. You can view it here. The upgrading works involved temporarily relocating the many stalls lining the main street of Brickfields to the playfield at Jalan Chan Ah Tong causing some disdain among the traders. But under the guise of progress and development comes a catch. Sun2Surf reported:

"Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal said the cabinet had decided to give Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) the land two months ago and that the company had submitted a proposal for commercial development to the federal government...


Raja Nong Chik said there was a possibility that the government quarters would be torn down. However, the Chan Ah Tong field, which is gazetted as a green area, will be preserved. he said."


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 June 2010 10:16
How Myths can be Necessary and also Dangerous PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 January 2012 23:00

farish2By Dr Farish A. Noor

First published in author's Facebook page


Over the last two days I have been interviewed three times by three different media publications over the question of where I stand on the latest silly debate in Malaysia, namely the question of whether Hang Tuah existed or not, and whether it ought to be taught in schools. This is, I have to confess, one of the smaller histories of Malaysia that has been in the footnotes of my mind for ages, and I recall how I was once asked by an elderly gentleman during a forum discussion in KL in 1998 if it was true that Hang Tuah was of Chinese origin.

Let me state what little I know of the matter, and make my stand relatively clearer:

Firstly, I dont know or care if Hang Tuah was Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Eskimo or Serbo-Croat. He could have been a mix of all of the above with a Martian wife and a Venusian mother-in-law for all I care.

Secondly, no, there is no record of the keris Taming Sari either, and every antique shop that claims to have one is lying to get your money;

Thirdly, please note that in the Hikayat Hang Tuah we also have stories of kerises that fly, magical potions, demons and monsters, and a magical bean that when swallowed allows you to speak all languages. (A bit like the Babel fish in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy methinks.)

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2012 23:33

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