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Commentary: Malaysia doesn’t understand the challenges facing its poorest communities

KUALA LUMPUR: The 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite attracted a world viewers for its arresting portrayal of South Korea’s stark earnings inequality.

The film’s rendering of a low-income family’s acute sense of alienation resonated extensively, little doubt as a result of related sentiments are palpable in lots of different nations.  And the hole between the haves and have-nots is rising, due to the twin challenges of COVID-19 and local weather change.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which tracks non-income measures of deprivation like training, well being, and dwelling requirements, is a necessary instrument in mapping the scope of the downside. My nation, Malaysia, joined the international community of nations that use the MPI in 2013, after years of utilizing outdated strategies to measure poverty.

In 2019, a scathing critique by then-UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston lastly led the authorities to revise its definition.

The MPI continues to play a job in Malaysia’s response to earnings inequality. In April 2021, Fatimah Kari, an economics professor specialising in poverty at the University of Malaya, led an MPI survey amongst the backside 40 per cent of earnings earners in my constituency of Permatang Pauh in Penang.

The purpose of the survey was to replicate the impression of the pandemic on impoverished households.

Along with the normal measurements, the survey assessed earnings loss as a consequence of the pandemic, relative entry to on-line training for kids, and general well-being in relation to dwelling confinement throughout lockdowns.

The pilot venture aimed to check a “COVID-adjusted” blueprint to measure poverty that might be adopted by Malaysia’s federal authorities to be used at the nationwide stage.



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