For Stats Day, Unicef urges adoption of modern data methods to steer pro-children policies in Malaysia

Radzi Razak
Unicef’s Malaysia representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said Malaysia’s acceptance of this offer would be consistent with the prime minister’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 that aims for equitable development for all segments of society. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is offering to help Malaysia with gathering high-quality data to ensure more young Malaysians get proper access to the services they need.

Unicef’s Malaysia representative Marianne Clark-Hattingh said Malaysia’s acceptance of this offer would be consistent with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 that aims for equitable development for all segments of society.

“Effective use of data can help us not only track results for children, but also shape those results with better insights about what’s working, what’s not, which children are thriving, and which are being left behind.

“This is particularly important in light of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda of ‘Leaving no one behind’ and the transformational aspirations of 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) embodied within the ‘Shared Prosperity’ vision recently launched by Prime Minister Mahathir,” she said in a statement to mark National Statistics Day today.

Clark-Hattingh said Unicef assisted countries in collecting and analysing data in order to fill data gaps for monitoring the situation of children and women, including through the “Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey” mechanism — the global gold standard survey mechanism that would address many of the data gaps in Malaysia’s existing national statistical system.

She said incorporating this mechanism into the 12MP would align a range of Malaysia’s national surveys and reporting frameworks with international best practice and improving the availability of key public datasets to academicians, civil society and public policy analysts with a view to strengthening public policy dialogue, transparency and accountability for results.

“Bold actions in these areas would surely make critical contribution to achievement of Malaysia’s national development and Shared Prosperity vision and position the country as a global trail-blazer in the adoption of a results-based approach to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

Last week, Dr Mahathir announced that Malaysia will adopt a multi-dimensional index and a dynamic policy to help the government eradicate poverty.

This comes after the prime minister’s economic advisor Muhammed Abdul Khalid said the current poverty line income (PLI) method that set the rate of RM980 for Peninsular Malaysia, RM1,180 for Sabah and RM1,020 for Sarawak was too low and outdated.

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston said after wrapping up an 11-day visit last month that Malaysia made “huge strides” in reducing poverty but said its continued use of the PLI was unrealistic.

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