By Emma Victoria
THE Sarawak government has been urged to reveal the exact number of households in the state earning less than RM2,208 per month.
Baram Peoples Action Committee chairman Philip Jau said that there are many households in Sarawak living with way below RM2,208 per month, including those in the urban areas.
“If the state authorities do not have any of the latest figures, they must carry out a fresh household income census survey. If the latest national criteria of RM2,208 per month income is used, then a vast number of families in Sarawak will fall into this category.
“This is not just in rural Sarawak but also cities and towns throughout this state, including Miri and Kuching.
“This will mean that Sarawak doesn’t only have the majority of its rural population living in poverty, but a big portion of its urban population also living in poverty,” he told The Star.
Jau was commenting on reports that Malaysia is revising its household monthly income poverty line from RM980 to RM2,208 as announced in Putrajaya yesterday.
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR vice-chairman Dr Teo Yu Keng today said Sarawak must update its statistics on poverty accordingly.
“The latest revision at the national level is realistic and necessary. It reflects the current realities regarding the cost of living Malaysian households face nowadays,” he said.
A recent United Nations report revealed that Sarawak has a high population of households surviving on a low income as the percentage of low-income earners in Sarawak is much higher than the national-level figure.
The report was compiled by Prof. Philip Alston, who is the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Issues.
Prof Alston visited Malaysia late last year to check on the latest poverty and human rights situation and he came to Sarawak too as part of his nationwide tour.
His report to the UN was forwarded to Putrajaya, which showed that Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak have high poverty rates.
At the national-level, 8.8 percent of households in Malaysia have a monthly income of less than RM2,000.
“The situation is direr in certain states,” said the report.
The report further pointed out that in Sarawak, 15.5 percent of households have a total family monthly income of less than RM2,000.
Prof Alston noted that much more needs to be done by both the federal and state governments to overcome the poverty and human-rights woes in the country.