PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs to look beyond household income and analyse factors like access to clean water, healthcare, and job opportunities when defining poverty, say experts.
Experts like member of the Yayasan Sejahtera's Board of Trustees Professor Dr Sulochana Nair have raised concerns over the lack of microdata on Malaysia’s poor communities in order to create effective social welfare programmes.
“You cannot continue to use blanket approaches to eradicate poverty, every single poverty group is different, ” said Professor Sulochana.
Concern was raised back in August when UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Phillip Alston released a report suggesting Malaysia’s 0.4% poverty rate was not accurate, and is somewhere between 16-20%.
Although Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has since called for the review of Malaysia’s National Poverty Line (NPL), experts are still hoping the government opts for a more holistic approach to define poverty in order to successfully eradicate it.
“Income alone is not enough, we have to look at access to education, healthcare, stable jobs, savings and social security," said Professor Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia National Institute of Ethnic Studies' Principal Research Fellow.
"These are important dimensions that need to be looked at in the process (of identifying poverty)."
Watch: What's the truth about Malaysian poverty? | Newsflash
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