Focus View
More than just a poverty line issue
FocusM | 30 Aug 2019 00:30

The latest report by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Issues Prof Philip Alston is raising more than just a storm in a teacup. According to Alston, Malaysia uses a very low and unrealistic Poverty Line Income (PLI), just to show that poverty has been eradicated in the country.

But poverty is more just about PLI. It is about whether the rakyat are able to make ends meet month after month. It is about whether they are able to sustain their livelihood. Hence the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) may be missing the point if it is only focus- ing on the PLI.

Still, the PLI issue raises some points for further discussion. “Malaysian officials consistently say that poverty has been virtually eliminated, with only ‘pockets’ remaining. That claim, however, is based on a statistical sleight of hand which has had nefarious con- sequences. The use of a very low and highly unrealistic poverty line obscures the more troubling reality that millions of families scrape by on very low incomes and there is significant hardship in urban as well as rural areas,” Alston’s report says.

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