NGO takes issue with ‘drop’ in Sabah poverty figures

Monday, 9 June 2014

They question the biased figures reported and are asking the government to explain how they achieved such good results.

KOTA KINABALU: Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (BoPIM), a UK-based NGO, has taken issue with a weekend statement by Pakatan NGO pro BN that Sabah’s “poverty rate” dropped within a year to single digits, from 19.7% to 8.1% at the end of last year.

“The statement by Pakatan NGO pro BN Zulkarnain Mahadar in the local media does not differentiate between hardcore poverty and poverty,” said BoPIM President Daniel John Jambun in a telephone call to FMT in Kota Kinabalu.

Daniel said that the update on poverty figures should be given by the relevant authorities and not by an NGO “which by its very nature does not deny that it is biased”.

He wants the Sabah government to explain how it had managed to reduce the poverty rate so dramatically within 12 months.

“If true, it speaks well of the authorities actions in tackling the poverty levels in Sabah,” said Daniel.

Universal format in measuring poverty levels required

He also wants the authorities concerned to explain for the benefit of the public, why the hardcore poverty figures in 2004 of 25.5% for Sabah had declined only slightly, eight years later by 2012 to the apparently hardcore 19.7% poverty figure as cited by Zulkarnain.

The 2004 figures, according to Daniel, are from UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) which reported hardcore poverty for Sarawak at 8% and for the Peninsula at 5.9%.

“If the decline in hardcore poverty between 2004 and 2012, was only 5.8%, how could it decline by 11.6% in one year between 2012 and 2013?” he asked. “I hope that we are not mixing up the poverty and hardcore poverty figures.”

Sabah, pointed out Daniel, had set a target of zero hardcore poverty by 2010, a promise first made in the ruling Barisan Nasional’s manifesto for the 1994 state elections.

He called on the Sabah and federal authorities to adopt a universally accepted format for benchmarking and to measure progress on the poverty eradication front.

Citing a Sabah Rural Development Ministry source, Daniel claims that different formats were being used over the years to measure poverty.

Apparently, the first three censuses in 1995, 1997 and 2000 used different formats. The 2000 Census registered 29, 889 hardcore poor families in Sabah.

Fears that Sabah is forever chasing its tail in poverty eradication, the Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), said Daniel, had identified 6,700 hardcore poor households in Sabah in the urban areas alone, mostly in Kudat, Tawau, Semporna, Ranau, Keningau and Kota Kinabalu.

“The World Bank Report released in Kota Kinabalu on 11 Nov, 2010 must be the basis for any progress or otherwise regarding the poverty front in Sabah and Sarawak must be measured,” he said.

“The report based solely on input from the State Planning Units in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching and the Economic Planning Unit in Putrajaya, confirmed Sabah as the poorest state in Malaysia, and Sarawak as the second poorest.”

“It also revealed that although Sabah had only 10% of the country’s population, it had 40% of its poor.”

The BoPIM chief fears that Sabah will forever be chasing its tail in poverty eradication given the high influx of illegal immigrants.

Sabah and the federal government tackle hardcore poverty Poverty eradication programmes jointly as announced over the years, with the Sabah government covering the productive and non-productive, including the disabled non-productive.

The state government provides general assistance while the federal government manages the old folks assistance scheme.

The Sabah government also has social development, income and standard of living programmes. These include housing assistance, community development, nurseries, mental development, training and education, income enhancement, balanced diet, Amanah Saham Bumiputera assistance, and town development.


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