KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 ― Despite climbing up one rung from last year in the latest prosperity survey to take 44th place out of 142 countries, Malaysia remains poorer compared to neighbours in the land-strapped island republic of Singapore.
The 2015 Prosperity Index by London-based international think tank Legatum Institute released today also showed Malaysia ranking 114th in the personal freedom category, considered “low” in the index.
Singapore’s overall prosperity rank was 17th, considered “high”, putting it at first place in the economy category and the top Asian nation overall.
In comparison, Malaysia’s overall 44th rank was marked as “upper middle”.
Norway topped the Legatum Prosperity Index, ranking in the top 10 in all eight categories used to measure prosperity: economy; entrepreneurship and opportunity; governance; education; health; safety and security; personal freedom; and social capital.
Malaysia ranked “upper middle” in all categories except for personal freedom.
The personal freedom category was defined as a nation’s performance and progress in guaranteeing individual freedom and encouraging social tolerance.
Putrajaya has come under fire from international rights groups over the violation of right to freedom of speech in Malaysia, with a recent Human Rights Watch report citing a long list of arrests in a purported government crackdown on dissent.
Legatum Institute marked Indonesia as the top performer overall, noting Southeast Asia’s largest economy had climbed 21 places in the global rankings in the last seven years.
Indonesia ranked 69th in this year’s index.
Malaysia has been hovering between the 43rd and 45th ranks in the Legatum Prosperity Index since 2009.
Other Southeast Asian nations except Singapore ranked below Malaysia in the 2015 index: Thailand (48th), Vietnam (55th), Indonesia (69th), the Philippines (74th), Laos (95th) and Cambodia (112th).