‘Orang Asli not part of income survey’

  • Nation
  • Monday, 02 Sep 2019

Left out: Technical notes accompanying the 2016 DOSM report state that Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia and areas under the purview of Esscom were excluded from the survey.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Household Income Survey conducted by the Department of Statistics Malaysia may not include Orang Asli settlements in Peninsular Malaysia, but the statistics for this special target group are available from the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa), says DOSM.

It pointed this out after World Bank senior economist on poverty and equity Dr Kenneth Simler noted that Orang Asli were not included in the survey.

“The Household Income Survey is the main source of information on poverty (in Malaysia).

“In their report, they (DOSM) said Orang Asli settlements were not surveyed, ” Simler said in an interview here.

According to him, the technical notes accompanying the 200-page 2016 report by DOSM stated that the survey covered urban and rural areas, including the remote areas of states in Malaysia “except the settlement of Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia and areas under the purview of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom)”.It added that data from the survey was used primarily by the government to formulate national development plans and monitor the Malaysia Plans.

Conducted since 1973, the Household Income Survey is carried out by DOSM twice every five years. Since 1987, it has been done together with the Basic Amenities Survey. Data is collected through personal interviews over a period of 12 months by specially trained department staff and officers.

The technical notes also said the main objectives of the survey are to collect information about income distribution, gather current statistics on poor households and identify the accessibility of basic amenities by households.

Close to 80,000 households were surveyed in the 2016 report.

According to information from Jakoa, there are some 178,000 Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.

Simler said the report did not explain why DOSM had chosen not to carry out surveys in these settlements or areas under Esscom.

He was responding to a statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Prof Philip Alston that Malaysia’s national absolute poverty rate at 0.4% was unduly low and excluded vulnerable populations such as the Orang Asli from its official figures.

Alston, who spent 11 days in Malaysia earlier last month, had also decried the treatment of Orang Asli by Kelantan state officials.

Asked if other similar surveys in other countries were required to take into account or sample aboriginal populations there, Simler said he believed so.

To a question on whether this could be due to “information constraints”, he said in certain countries with nomadic populations, the survey might not have been done.

“But that is not so much the case with the Orang Asli, ” he added.

Simler said besides the Orang Asli, the DOSM survey did not sample foreign workers or refugees in the country as the method was based on a housing unit or household.When contacted, DOSM chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the Orang Asli were a special target group and Jakoa, dedicated to looking into their affairs, had the detailed statistics.

“It did not mean their welfare was not looked into. In fact, we are one step ahead of other countries – we have a machinery that takes care of them, ” he said.

However, Mohd Uzir said DOSM would look into incorporating the information from Jakoa into the National Household Income Survey.

He explained that on top of general statistics, there were more detailed statistics by different agencies for the various target groups. In terms of industries and sectors, for example, the Fisheries Department would have such information to enable it to channel assistance to fishermen.

“DOSM is carrying out Household Income Survey for Malaysians and Household Expenditure Survey for Malaysians and foreigners, both of which include the Orang Asli currently, ” he added.

It started in January and will be completed in December, with the information to be released next year.

Then Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, which oversaw Jakoa when the 2016 National Household Income Survey was carried out, said all information on the Orang Asli fell under the purview of Jakoa in line with the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954.“The data gathered is channelled to the government for further action, ” he added.

Under the Pakatan Harapan government, Jakoa has been moved from the ministry to the Prime Minister’s Department.

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