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Speech at DAP Tamil Rocket
by Lim Guan Eng
(Brickfields, Friday): The Prime Minister should direct the Economic Planning Unit to conduct an immediate study of the implications of the UNHD Report 2005 that showed the HDI for Malaysia has dropped from No. 58 in 2003 to No. 61 out of 177 countries in 2005. Such a study must also identify the causes behind Malaysia’s poor ranking and how the measures taken to improve our HDI.
In contrast, China has registered some of the most rapid advances in human development in history as its Human Development Index Ranking now ranks the 85th, compared with the 105th in 1990. Can Malaysia proudly say that we have improved by 20 places over the last 15 years?
DAP disagrees with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz that there was no cause for concern that Malaysia is ranked behind countries like Seychelles, Tonga, Bulgaria, Panama, Qatar, Antigua and Barbuda, Libya and Costa Rica. For Malaysia to regress from No. 58 in 2003 to No. 61 in 2005 is unacceptable. But what is more unacceptable is for Malaysia to lose out to an African country like Libya, Central American country like Costa Rica, Arab country like Qatar and Asia-Pacific country like Tonga.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator Richard Leete had said that the HDI focused on three measurable dimensions of human development -- living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. How can Malaysia not be concerned at losing out to African countries like Libya and Central American countries such as Costa Rica on these three measures?
We must not forget that Malaysia has the worst income disparity between the rich and poor in South East Asia, higher than Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. The UNHDP Report 2004 shows the richest 10% in Malaysia controls 38.4% of our economic income as compared to our poorest 10% controlling only 1.7%.
How can Malaysia be serious about achieving developed nation status by 2020 if we are worse than some African countries or rapidly approaching the same level as China in future. The time has come for the government to treat our poor performance in the UNDP HDI seriously and seek ways to achieve improvement every year. Only then can the standard of living for Malaysians improve and achieve Vision 2020 of a developed nation.