According to the latest household income survey, the following are the percentages of families in the various monthly household income brackets.
|income range||of families|
|< RM 1000||8.6|
|RM 1001 – 2000||29.4|
|RM 2001 – 3000||19.8|
|RM 3001 – 4000||12.9|
|RM 4001 – 5000||8.6|
|RM 5001 – 10,000||15.8|
|> RM 10,000||4.9|
Source: Figures presented by Senator Amirsham A Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in response to a query in Parliament by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, MP for Sungai Siput
If you assume that families earning below RM2,000/month are having a really tough time making ends meet, then 38 per cent of all families are in that predicament.
If we take RM3,000 as the threshold for those who are barely coping, then that makes it more well over half the number of Malaysian families who are going through lean times.
This is the real problem in Malaysia today – not the inter-ethnic income disparities.
And the government still doesn’t want to heed the MTUC’s call for a minimum wage of RM900/month and a cost of living adjustment of RM300?
After nearly 40 years of fairly rapid FDI-driven economic growth and over 20 years of neo-liberal policies, to what extent has the quality of life for families really improved – even with more than one person in the household working or the breadwinner taking up an extra job? Instead, we have a vast gulf between the rich and the poor, as a sense of disillusionment sets in. This partly explains why the BN did badly at the polls.
Now the question is what kind of solutions can the PR offer if they come to power to tackle such structural disparities – apart from the urban-rural poverty gap? Will eradication of corruption alone solve the problem – or is the problem a more deep-rooted structural one?
We need to be looking at development policies that truly benefit the people – people-centred development – instead of being so obsessed with the ethnic breakdown of equity ownership and policies that only benefit Big Business.