Wednesday, April 07, 2010
60 percent poverty rate in Sabah and Sarawak, says NGO
About 1.8 million of the 3.25 million population in Sabah live in poverty, according to the Common Interest Group Malaysia (CigMa).
This constitutes 60 percent of its population, CigMa deputy chairman Daniel John Jambun said.
“We believe the poverty level in Sabah and Sarawak could be as high as 60 percent. In Sabah, the poverty level is 1.8 million, which is 60 percent of the 3.25 million population.”
Jambun was commenting on a statement made by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Yahya Hussein that the government had reduced the state’s poverty level from 23 percent in 2004 to 16 percent.
Last year, Chief Minister Musa Aman announced that Sabah's poverty rate had been revised to 16 percent for 2007 compared with 23 percent in 2004.
He said the hardcore poor rate had gone down to 3.7 percent in 2007 from 6.5 percent in 2004. But Jambun believes otherwise.
“If that is something to be happy about, then let’s look at the figures. Sixteen percent of the state’s population of 3.25 million is about 520,000 people.
"That's more than half a million people living in poverty. It also means that before this, we had 24 percent or 780,000 poor people. That’s a lot of poor people,” said Jambun.
He also questioned the disparity in statistics released by the Sabah government and Kota Kinabalu lawyer Christina Liew.
“In 2008, Liew said that Sabah had 1.2 million people living below the poverty line. But last year the chief minister said that the number of hardcore poor households had reduced to 16,403. These figure don’t tally,” he said.
Gap between the rich and the poor
In 2007, the federal government declared that it had “successfully reduced poverty rate to 5.7 percent in 2004 compared with 49 percent in 1970”.
So Sabah’s rate of 16 percent is higher than the national poverty rate.
“The Sabah figure also means that the government had succeeded in increasing the income level of 260,000 people, enough to allow them to rise above the poverty line.
“But who and where are these people? How much are they really getting now? Are they villagers only or do they include those people categorised as the urban poor? Do they also include the 'new Bumiputeras'”? asked Jambun.
In 2006, former Housing and Local Government Minister Ong Kah Ting had said that Sabah's higher cost of living was the reason that its poverty level was the highest in the country.
Sabah holds the dubious distinction of having the highest poverty income line in urban areas, which is RM886 per household.
Ong had said Sarawak fared better at RM777 a month per household while Johor ( RM624), Kedah (RM625), Pahang (RM583) and Perak (RM584).
Said Jambun: “At this poverty level, it seems to me that the percentage of poverty in Sabah and Sarawak could well be 60 or more.
“It has also been mentioned that the poverty income bracket for a family of five was RM998 for 2008.
“Now, thanks to inflation caused by the increases of petrol price, this level should be way up. And what about the gap between the rich and the poor?” he asked.