KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 ― Malaysians enjoy basic healthcare that is comparable to some developed countries but also face restrictions on civil liberties more severe than in repressive regimes such as Pakistan and Sierra Leone, according to a recent survey.
The Social Progress Index 2016 released this month by the Social Progress Imperative, an international network that pushes for social change, showed Malaysia ranked 50th out of 133 countries overall, falling four spots from the previous survey.
The survey measured countries’ social progress on three broad categories: “Basic Human Needs”, which comprises public safety and access to nutrition, basic medical care, water, and housing; “Foundations of Wellbeing” that measures access to basic education and information, as well as environmental protection; and “Opportunity” that measures personal rights, freedom, prejudices in society, as well as access to advanced education.
Malaysia was 38th and scored an overall 88.45 out of 100 for the “Basic Human Needs” indicator. It performed especially well in terms of nutrition and access to basic medical care (97.24 out of 100) followed by access to water and housing.
But the country’s score was weighed down by its performance on personal rights. It ranked 101st and scored just 32.52 out of 100 on the personal rights indicator that comprises political rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly or association, freedom of movement and private property rights.
Malaysia placed lower than Pakistan, Indonesia and Singapore in this area, even falling below poor African countries like Sierra Leone.
"In the Basic Human Needs dimension, Malaysia performs best on nutrition and basic medical care and has most opportunity to improve on the personal safety component.
"In the Opportunity Dimension, Malaysia is strongest on personal freedom and choice and has the most room to improve on personal rights," said a statement accompanying the findings.
Malaysia also scored poorly on the tolerance and inclusion indicator that comprises tolerance for immigrants, tolerance for homosexuals, discrimination and violence against minorities, religious tolerance and a community safety net, netting a 45.72 score and coming in 81st.
It scored 60.84 for personal freedom and choice and was ranked at 73rd.
Malaysia scored 48.48 out of 100 on “Opportunity”, compared to 73.31 on “Foundations of Wellbeing” and 88.45 on “Basic Human Needs”.
Finland scored highest of the 133 countries ranked the survey on the extent to which countries fulfilled the social and environmental needs of its citizens, and was followed by Canada, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland with the United Kingdom coming ninth and the United States 19th.
The Central African Republic was joined at the bottom of the list by Afghanistan, Chad, Angola and Niger.