Parti Keadilan Rakyat (KeADILan) today urged the government to use the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to ensure Malaysia achieve its goals as a high-income nation.
KeADILan vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar said the index could be used to give a clearer picture of the lives of the poor as well as a comparison between urban and rural areas, ethnicity and other demographics of society.
"Using poverty to measure the poverty line is no longer sufficient to explain poverty, instead it gives a wrong impression, especially when the government refuses to define the poverty line back," she said in a statement Apr 15.
She said with a high household debt of 140 per cent as compared to their income, people would continue to face a very large burden.
"For every RM1 earned a person bears RM1.40 of debt. This debt largely comes from the housing and automobile loans which is so high in Malaysia," she said.
She also quoted Prof Fatimah Kari from University Malaya's Centre for Poverty and Development who said the government’s subsidy cuts will continue to badly affect the Malays and Bumiputera.
"The poverty rate is expected to be back as in 1970 in a short term, if this issue of the income gap is not controlled by government policies," she said.
The Lembah Pantai parliamentary member added that the study by Prof Fatimah also indicated that the cutting of subsidy involved would increase the poverty rate among the Chinese and Indians in urban and rural areas, although the effect is not dramatic.
She said the government should not be boastful of the current statistics that it had reduced hard core poor to just 1.7 percent in 2012. She said its time to look at how the figure was derived at so that Malaysia would be at par with other high income nation.
"Otherwise we will have a bleak future for the people," she said.