Suhakam: Better method needed to gauge poverty

The government currently uses a poverty line index (PLI) based on a monthly income of RM980 for a household of four — effectively, RM8 per person each day — that gives Malaysia an official poverty incidence of just 0.4 per cent. Source (pic): BBC

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has recommended the government implement the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for its 12th Malaysia Plan so policymakers can more accurately design poverty-alleviation schemes.

“Suhakam strongly recommends the use of MPI in lieu of the current method of measurement, as it can more accurately and robustly calculate the intensity of poverty based on deprivations related to education, health and standard of living through a non-income/consumption-centric calculation of poverty,” said the commission in a statement.

Suhakam also called for the implementation of human rights-based poverty alleviation programmes which will include human rights standards in policy planning as it believes such programmes should focus on affordable healthcare, employment, quality education, inclusive growth and bridging inequality, and not just absolute measures of extreme poverty.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has recommended the government implement the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for its 12th Malaysia Plan so policymakers can more accurately design poverty-alleviation schemes.

It said the MPI, which can be used for all of Malaysia’s five-year development plans, can be aligned with Pakatan Harapan’s Shared Prosperity initiative that encompasses the three dimensions of economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and social re-engineering.

“Suhakam strongly recommends the use of MPI in lieu of the current method of measurement, as it can more accurately and robustly calculate the intensity of poverty based on deprivations related to education, health and standard of living through a non-income/consumption-centric calculation of poverty,” said the commission in a statement.


It noted the recent findings by the United Nations’ Extreme Poverty and Human Rights special rapporteur Philip Alston on Malaysia having a higher poverty level than officially estimated, saying Suhakam supported several of his conclusions.

“We take note that the official calculation for poverty in Malaysia, which measures absolute poverty is too low and does not accurately reflect the reality of the cost of living in both urban and rural settlements across the country today. The Special Rapporteur’s indication that a poverty rate between 15 to 20 per cent is realistic,” it said.

Suhakam also called for the implementation of human rights-based poverty alleviation programmes which will include human rights standards in policy planning as it believes such programmes should focus on affordable healthcare, employment, quality education, inclusive growth and bridging inequality, and not just absolute measures of extreme poverty.

“There are many factors that impact an individual or group that experiences poverty, and by taking a multi-faceted approach, such programmes can be more sustainable and impactful,” the commission said.

The government currently uses a poverty line index (PLI) based on a monthly income of RM980 for a household of four — effectively, RM8 per person each day — that gives Malaysia an official poverty incidence of just 0.4 per cent.

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