Malaysia needs integrated welfare system to tackle poverty, sociologist says

Radzi Razak
UKM professor Datuk Denison Jayasooria said that while aid was available to those in poverty, this was often scattered across different agencies and departments. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — A one-stop centre integrating all welfare and aid solutions to those is poverty is crucial to fully address the issue, said a sociology expert.

According to The Straits Times (ST), National University of Malaysia (UKM) professor, Datuk Denison Jayasooria said that while aid was available to those in poverty, this was often scattered across different agencies and departments.

“There is a multiplicity of poverty issues. Poor families often face a number of problems, such as single incomes, lack of childcare and eldercare options, and housing affordability.

“All these involve multiple agencies, but welfare workers are likely tasked with only one section, (and) so will redirect the poor to other sections, for example, their housing matters. Realistically, the poor cannot afford the time and expense of going to multiple agencies for help,” he was quoted as saying.

The ST cited lack of housing as a key issue affecting those in poverty.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin acknowledged the issue and said secure housing was vital to enable those in poverty to break out of its trap in addition to other forms of assistance.

“It's about giving them (the poor)  economic empowerment,” she said, referring to state assistance for job placements, upskilling and business grants.

“Most importantly they have to be hardworking,” she added.

Poverty in Malaysia came under the spotlight after UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston said the country’s method of using a poverty line income of RM980 to gauge the severity of the issue was severely outdated.

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