This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article's factual accuracy is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help to ensure that disputed statements are reliably sourced. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article possibly contains original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding inline citations. Statements consisting only of original research should be removed. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's general notability guideline. Please help to demonstrate the notability of the topic by citing reliable secondary sources that are independent of the topic and provide significant coverage of it beyond a mere trivial mention. If notability cannot be shown, the article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted.Find sources: "Poverty in Malaysia" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article may rely excessively on sources too closely associated with the subject, potentially preventing the article from being verifiable and neutral. Please help improve it by replacing them with more appropriate citations to reliable, independent, third-party sources. (July 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Poverty in Malaysia is a controversial economic issue. The definition of poverty and the poverty line for Malaysians has been disputed, and government policies to address poverty such as the Malaysian New Economic Policy have been met with political protest.[citation needed]

Malaysia's total population is 31 million as of 2015, of which 0.6% live below the national poverty line. Malaysia has grown rapidly in terms of economic development. An indicator is that in 2014, 65.6% of the population aged 15 years and above were employed.[1]


After Malaysian independence, significant chunks of the Malaysian economy were controlled by British colonial firms. Second economically to these monopolies were small-scale retail enterprises run by the Malaysian Chinese and small-scale moneylending businesses run by a few Malaysian Indians.[2]

After the 13 May Incident in 1969, where racial rioting broke out in the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP) was initiated. Its purpose was to narrow the disparities in wealth between the Malay and non-Malay communities in the country through aggressive affirmative action and state intervention in the economy.[3]

It has been suggested that although the NEP was initially successful in achieving its goal of reducing the economic gap between different communities in the country, its politicisation in the 1990s and 2000s (decade) hampered its implementation; during this period, intraethnic economic inequity amongst the Malays reportedly increased. Anecdotal evidence has been used to suggest that rural Malay communities have not been significantly uplifted economically by the NEP.[4]

As the country modernised, new forms of poverty appeared; one such problem was that of urban poverty. Economic development has been named as the cause of poverty amongst "single female headed households, the rural elderly, unskilled workers and migrant workers" by a local economist.[5]

The United Nations Development Programme has praised Malaysia for its reportedly successful poverty reduction programmes. Officially:

In 2002, it was 5.1 percent down from 7.5 percent in 1999. The number of poor households declined by 25.6 percent to 267,900. If the number of the handicapped, disabled and elderly who received welfare support from the government is excluded, the incidence of poverty in 2002 is estimated at 4.5 percent.[6]

However, in 2019, UN disputed the poverty figures released by Malaysia. Malaysia stated that its poverty figures was down to 0.4% in 2016 when compared to 49% in 1970. This is because Malaysia defined poverty as household income per month less than RM 980. However, UN officials argued that Malaysia has set the poverty line too low and household income more than RM 980 but less than RM 2000 are in fact under the poverty category also. The UN also stated that realistic poverty rate in Malaysia is from 16% to 20%.[7] However, Malaysia stand firm of its claim while pointing that the UN assertions are incorrect.[8]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Asian Development Bank. (n.d.). Poverty in Malaysia. Retrieved 21 November 2016 from
  2. ^ Musa, M. Bakri (2007). Towards A Competitive Malaysia. Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre. p. 122. ISBN 978-983-3782-20-8.
  3. ^ Musa, pp. 122–123.
  4. ^ Musa, p. 123.
  5. ^ Johan, Musalmah (October 2005). "Eradicating Rural and Urban Poverty" (PDF). Malaysian Institute of Economic Research. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  6. ^ "UNDP in Malaysia : Poverty Reduction". United Nations Development Programme. 2005. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  7. ^ "Poorer than we think: Malaysia's official poverty figures 'vastly' undercounted, says UN expert". The Star (Malaysia). 23 August 2019. Archived from the original on 23 August 2019. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  8. ^ Sira, Habibu (23 August 2019). "Malaysia dismisses UN rep's claim of high poverty rate". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 24 August 2019.