A blog reader has mentioned the following in the comments section, which I thought was worth highlighting. When you consider the immense resources that Sarawak and Sabah have at their disposal, you have to wonder why their poverty rates are higher than the other states with around the same household income:
The core issue in Sarawak is governance and distribution within Sarawak. Don’t fall for the federal-state ploy, although there are of course serious issues there.
This can be seen, e.g., when one compares the average household income in Sarawak with that in other states. Below are the numbers for 2004 as published in the 9th Malaysia Plan, and sorted by average household income from highest to lowest:
Income / Poverty rate
Selangor 5,175 / 1.0
WP KL 5,011 / 1.5
Penang 3,531 / 0.3
Johor 3,076 / 2.0
N9 2,886 / 1.4
Melaka 2,792 / 1.8
Sarawak 2,725 / 7.5
Sabah 2,487 / 23.0
Pahang 2,410 / 4.0
Perak 2,207 / 4.9
Kedah 2,126 / 7.0
Perlis 2,046 / 6.3
T’ganu 1,984 / 15.4
Kelantan 1,829 / 10.6
As can be seen, Sarawak has the 6th highest average household income in the country, just slightly below Melaka. Yet, while Melaka had a poverty rate of 1.8%, Sarawak had 7.5%. Or, look at Sabah and Pahang: not much difference in average household income, but worlds apart in poverty rates. Both Sabah and Sarawak have a much more unequal distribution of income than the country as a whole.
Blog reader major hopes that things will change in Sarawak:
During my five years tour of duty in Sarawak, I clocked more then 80,000km travel by road. I used to change eight tyres a year for my 4×4 (all terrain (A/T)). I flew almost every week using all type of MAS aircraft and helicopters reaching all small and big airports. I explored almost every small and big town. I cruised along almost all the small and big, short and long rivers. I used almost all ferry services in crossing the rivers.
I visited many longhouses and met thousands of Dayaks and other natives. I listened to and understood their sorrow and happiness. I joined all their functions and ate all their food and tasted all their drinks. Although I am a Muslim from the peninsula, I love Sarawak people for their honesty, kindness, courage and bravery and for all their sweat and blood to protect our motherland.
I pledge that all Malaysians should give all their attention to Sarawak and Sabah peoples (and give them) all their dues. The development, the basic needs and the future for all my Apai, Indai, brothers and sisters who are desperately in need especially in the rural areas.