Current Affairs

Redefine definition of poverty, DAP tells Najib ahead of RMK-11

The definition of poverty should be changed to reflect the realities of today, ahead of the 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK-11) to be tabled tomorrow, an opposition lawmaker has said.

ong kian ming

Ong Kian Ming, Serdang MP


Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming in a statement said the poverty line, which stands at RM830 per month in Peninsular Malaysia, RM1090 in Sabah and RM920 in Sarawak, has to be redefined.

“Idris Jala, the CEO of Pemandu, was quoted as saying that the poverty in Malaysia has nearly been eradicated with less than 1% of the population living below the Poverty Line Index (PLI).

“Putting aside some valid concerns about the accuracy and representativeness of the data collected, I would like to see Malaysia adopt a new definition of poverty. Since Idris Jala likes to use international organisations such as the OECD and the World Bank as reference points, I would point him towards the OECD definition of poverty where “the poverty line is here taken as half the median household income”,” Ong said.

Ong, who also heads the think-tank, Penang Institute, said the 2012 Household Income Survey showed that the median household income was RM3626 a month.

“Using the OECD relative poverty line, this means that the PLI for relative poverty in Malaysia would be RM1813 a month. The median household income of the bottom 40% was RM1852 a month. Using this new relative poverty definition, Malaysia’s poverty rate would measure in at almost 40%,” he pointed out.

Ong said he also hopes the RMK-11 would address the issues of a more transparent subsidy rationalisation programme. He cited an example of subsidies up to RM2.2 billion on production of ST15 rice, which is meant for low income groups. However, that subsidy has been abused by unscrupulous parties who repackage the rice as a more expensive variant.

He added three more items which he would urge the government to include in the RMK-11: Government spending which is transparent and not ‘hidden’; Public Private Partnerships which are transparent and not biased towards the private sector, and giving more power to the state and local governments. He also urged the government to truly commit to making tough public policy decisions on areas like the environment.

He also rapped Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for not consulting the opposition MPs on the plan.

– The Rocket


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