Anwar asks Perikatan govt what has been done since March to defend Malays

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says the current administration has only made the situation worse for poor Malays in the country since coming into power in March. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says the current administration has only made the situation worse for poor Malays in the country since coming into power in March. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 ― Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said that although Perikatan Nasional (PN) had replaced Pakatan Harapan (PH) to “save” the Malays, it has done little since coming into power in March.

He said the current administration has only made the situation worse for poor Malays in the country.

Commenting on Putrajaya's announcement yesterday that it had revised the poverty line index (PLI) to a monthly household income of RM2,208, Anwar said: “What has the PN administration done since March to defend the Malays? They have assembled a bloated Cabinet which will cost the country an additional RM 7.6 million per year.”

He said the government has appointed members of Parliament who already earn a generous allowance as directors of government-linked companies (GLCs).

“In those positions, they take jobs away from qualified professionals including Malay corporate leaders while significantly increasing their personal earnings.

“When it comes to addressing the issue of good governance ― PN is giving lip service to fighting corruption.

“However, by partnering with the party that was in the driver’s seat when so many millions of Bumiputera shares were squandered, when so many hectares of bumiputera land were lost and when so many mega scandals took place, I question whether the interests of the Malays can really be preserved under the current arrangement,” he said.

Yesterday, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economy, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed announced the revised PLI which increased the numbers of hardcore poor in the country by a whopping five percentage points to 5.6 per cent or 405,441 households from 0.4 per cent or 24,700 households in 2016.

He said that the current national PLI is RM2,208 a month per household, which has increased by more than double from its previous PLI in 2016 which stood at RM980 per household.

Anwar said that the movement control order (MCO) due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to millions of Malaysian facing poverty especially for those with daily and weekly wage earners in the B40 and M40 group.

He said better preparation should be underfoot as many experts including United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston and Professor Fatimah Kari of University of Malaya have already done reports about poverty among Malaysians.

“In the past, whenever the official poverty figures are challenged ― the government in power will announce a revised index ― such as ‘relative poverty index,’ or ‘multi-dimensional poverty index.’

“These new methods will engage in a statistical sleight of hand ― claiming to enhance the understanding of poverty ― but ultimately settling on another underestimation of the problem. As a result, there has been a consistent failure to develop better policies that address the root causes of poverty,” he said.

Anwar said that under PH, there was some effort by the government to revise its methodology to achieve a real understanding of the extent of poverty.

He said that through the Parliamentary Caucus on Reform and Governance, which he chaired, has managed to develop assessment together with economists Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Professor Rajah Rasiah and Professor Edmund Terrence Gomez to give their views to lawmakers on how to focus the government’s efforts on addressing poverty.

“If the government truly believes there are fewer than 25,000 poor people in the country then poverty is less of a priority and the government can allocate spending to other areas.

“Instead, if we as a nation accept that there may be as many as 6 to 8 million people in Malaysia living at or near the poverty line, including the Malays, and bumiputera of Sabah and Sarawak, then the government’s decisions on how to allocate resources for social safety net, healthcare, education and infrastructure will be vastly different,” he said.

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