MIRI: The latest move by the Federal Government to revise the figure of the household monthly income poverty-line from RM980 to RM2,208 will mean that Sarawak has a very high number of families living in poverty.
Politicians and social activists in Sarawak are calling on to the state government to disclose the exact details showing how many families in this state earn RM2,208 and below per month.
Baram Peoples Action Committee chairman Philip Jau said today (July 13) that there are plenty of families in Sarawak living with incomes way below RM2,208 per month.
"The state government should reveal to the public how many households in this state earn RM2,208 and below.
"If the state authorities do not have any of the latest figures, they must carry out a fresh household income census survey, as if the latest national criteria of RM2,208 per month income is used, it means that a vast population of families in Sarawak will fall into this category.
"This is not just in rural Sarawak but also cities and towns throughout this state, including Miri and Kuching.
"This will mean that Sarawak doesn't only have the majority of its rural population living in poverty, but a big portion of its urban population also living in poverty," he told The Star.
Jau was reacting to news that Malaysia is revising its household monthly income poverty line from RM980 to RM2,208 as announced in Putrajaya yesterday.
Sarawak PKR vice-chairman Dr Teo Yu Keng today said Sarawak must update its statistics on poverty accordingly.
"The latest revision at the national level is realistic and necessary. It reflects the current realities regarding the cost of living Malaysian households face nowadays. Sarawak must update its statistics in tandem with the national revision," he said.
Meanwhile, a recent United Nations report made available to The Star revealed that Sarawak has a high population of households surviving on a low income as the percentage of low-income earners in Sarawak is much higher than the national-level figure, said the report.
The report was compiled by Prof. Philip Alston, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Issues.
Prof Alston visited Malaysia late last year to check on the latest poverty and human rights situation and he came to Sarawak too as part of his nationwide tour.
His report to the UN was forwarded to Putrajaya.
A copy of the report made available to The Star showed that Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak have high poverty rates.
At the national-level, 8.8 percent of households in Malaysia have a monthly income of less than RM2,000.
"The situation is more dire in certain states," said the report.
The report further pointed out that in Sarawak, 15.5 percent of households have a total family monthly income of less than RM2,000.
Prof Alston noted that much more needs to be done by both the federal and state governments to overcome the poverty and human-rights woes in the country.
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