Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

COMMENT | The poverty of numbers

Thor Kah Hoong

Published
Modified 14 Jul 2020, 4:59 am

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”

- James Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name

COMMENT | That’s the bare truth. Life for a family of four is beset with multiple demands for funds – to meet daily necessities like food and transport, to pay for medical recovery to health, the growing needs of the children, to fend off pressing demands from the landlord, bank or Ah Long and emergencies. Don’t talk about setting aside for old age, the daily grind does not allow time to think about the future (or money for it).

Their plight is made worse because, while for them poverty is a real desperate lack of funds, for economic planners and politicians, poverty is just a numbers game.

The government finally conceded last week that the poverty line, set at RM980 a month for a family of four to live healthily and actively, was farcical.

I would say tragic for those families earning a thousand ringgit, or just over, who are considered safe from destitution and thus, not requiring the help of the government or charitable society...

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