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Sunday, April 11, 2004


Urban Poverty Eradication

Looks like my dreams are coming true. First there was the new MINIster from MORRD, who said he wanted to eradicate rural hardcore poverty in 3 years; now we have the old MINIster from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government---MOHLG who wants to eradicate urban hardcore poverty in 5.

Soon after the BN landslide victory in the just concluded 11th general election on March 21, Pak Lah had said one of his priorities is to fight poverty and reduce the poverty rate in the country significantly. And for the fight against urban poverty, he has entrusted the task to the MOHLG. The MINIster concerned announced that a think-tank comprising NGOs and professionals who could provide input on how to deal with urban poverty. “The think-tank will include those from local authorities in charge of urban areas,” the MINIster added.

How is the hardcore poor defined :: according to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), those with a household income of RM529 and less a month in Peninsular Malaysia, RM600 in Sarawak and RM650 in Sabah are considered to be in the hardcore poor category. Social Strategic Foundation (YSS) executive director Dr Denison Jayasooria said a total of 69,000 or 2% of households in the country were regarded as urban poor in 2002, including 12,000 which were considered hardcore poor. But YSS appears to have its own definition of the hardcore poor :: the urban poor is defined as a family of 5 with a monthly income of between RM529 and RM690, while the hardcore poor earned only half the figure. So to begin with, can we have one definition of hardcore poor relevant to year 2004.

It looks like the government is serious about poverty eradication, both urban and rural, the Deputy MINIster of MOHLG has been reported by Bernama as saying :: "Urban Poverty Eradication Tops Agenda For Sarawak".

Urban and rural poverty involve the deprivation of basic amenities, services, conditions of neighbourhood, quality of life and educational needs and are interrelated to crime, domestic violence, poor education, gangsterism and other social ills and family problems.

There is much to be done and instead of just having the MORRD and MOHLG tackle these issues of rural and urban poverty separately, policies could be made after discussions in Parliament by both sides of the political divide, NGOs, civil society and the views of the people in the streets should also be taken into consideration. This poverty probem needs to be tackled from all angles to come out with solutions which are not just for the short term but for the long one.


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