United Nations Human Development Report 2004 That Malaysia Has The Worst Income Disparity Between The Rich And Poor In South-East Asia: Corruption The Cause?
- Joint DAP Geylang Patah Parliamentary Liason Committee & Skudai Lapan Batu Setengah Dinner
by Lim Guan Eng
(Skudai, Thursday): The Malaysian Government may have some success in fighting absolute poverty but it does not enjoy the same success against relative poverty. In fact the latest United Nations Human Development (UNHDP) Report 2004 shows that Malaysia has the worst income disparity between the rich and poor in South East Asia.
Based on the enclosed table attached, Malaysia was ranked No. 59 worldwide on the Human Development Index in 2004, a decline of one position from No. 58 on 2003. What is of interest and concern is that Malaysia maintains its position as the country with the greatest gap between rich and poor with the highest Gini coefficient amongst South-East Asian countries of Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Gini coefficient measures inequality in income distribution and is a measure of or the lack of economic justice.
The UNHDP 2004 Report shows that befitting its poor or undeveloped country status, Indonesia has the lowest Gini coefficient or income disparity or the best economic justice between the rich and poor. What is surprising is that developed countries like Singapore which may be expected to have higher income disparity is better or has lower income disparity than both Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
Not only Malaysia has the highest income disparity, the richest 10% of the population is 22.1 times richer than the poorest 10%(the richest) 20% of the population is 12.4 times richer than the poorest 20%. Such figures are borne out by the richest 10% in Malaysia control 38.4% of our economic income as compared to the poorest 10% controlling only 1.7% of our economic income. This compares with Singaporeís richest 10% controlling 32.8% of economic income as compared to its poorest 10% controlling 1.9 % of economic income.
The richest 20% in Malaysia control more than half or 54.3% of our economic income as compared to the poorest 20% controlling less than 5% at only 4.4 %. Clearly the UNHDP 2004 Report validates DAPís statements that under the BNís crony capitalism, in relative terms the rich has become richer whilst the poor become poorer.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should study these figures and analyse where his policies of economic justice has gone wrong until the distribution of economic wealth is becoming more and more unfair. The Malaysian government has spent hundreds of billions of ringgit to alleviate poverty and distribute wealth fairly.
Corruption has always been one of the main cause of such income disparity. Has BNís policies of only benefiting certain cronies resulting in only a small number of people becoming rich at the expense of ordinary Malaysians. The number of failed government projects involving billions of ringgit, billion ringgit corruption scandals and Malaysiaís worsening position in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from No. 37 to No. 39 points to corruption as the possible cause of the high income disparity between rich and poor.
That is why it is so crucial that the Prime Minister carries out his promise to wipe out corruption not just to attract foreign investment but to ensure economic justice to 25 million ordinary Malaysians so that they can enjoy their fair share of the economy regardless of race and religion.
* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General