Poverty still prevalent in M’sia, says Chua

(The Star) – KUNMING (China): Malaysia has not yet eradicated poverty but it does not mean the policies implemented over the years to ease the problem were ineffective, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The fight against poverty, he added, is a never-ending process and the poverty line was always a “moving target.”

“There should be a natural adjustment to push the poverty line upwards after taking into consideration the inflationary impact and the spending power of households,” Dr Chua said when addressing the ICAPP Conference on Poverty Alleviation here yesterday.

He said some of the policies involving poverty eradication had indirectly led the country into an income trap.

“Various surveys conducted over the years suggest that Malaysia’s strong income growth is only applicable to the top 20% of the income earners, while the bottom 40% experienced the slowest growth, with an average income of only RM1,222 in 2008,” he said in a press statement.

In order to solve the problem, he said the New Economic Model (NEM) aimed to double the country’s current per capita income of RM23,000 to RM49,500 by 2020.

Dr Chua led an MCA delegation on a two-day study visit from July 13 to Yunnan at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party. They also visited Chuxiong and Honghe Hani and Yi prefectures.

In his two-day visit at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party, Dr Chua had travelled to Keyi village, about 130km from here, where he observed how tourism had enriched the life of the Yi ethnic minority group there.

He said Malaysia could emulate such domestic culture tourism for the orang aslis.

“We have about 500,000 indigenous people who live in the jungles and suburbs.

“Our biggest challenge is to ensure they enjoy economic development while maintaining their lifestyle and culture,” he said.