Measure poverty with Multidimensional Poverty Index, says Suhakam

Measure poverty with Multidimensional Poverty Index, says Suhakam

PUCHONG: The National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) urged the federal government to measure poverty using the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) in the wake of claims by United Nations’ Extreme Poverty and Human Rights special rapporteur Philip Alston that Malaysia’s poverty rate stood at 15% to 20%.

In pushing for the MPI, Suhakam added that the index can be used for all of Malaysia’s five year development plans. In addition to that it was also compatible to 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.

Contrary to the denial of Economic Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Suhakam stated that it supported the assessment made by Alston.

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 current poverty line index (PLI) is 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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