Bridget Welsh: Poverty Sabah’s most pressing woe…


Poverty Sabah’s most pressing woe

The poor, who are simply putting their families first, shouldn’t be blamed for voting the way they do – By BRIDGET WELSH

Updated 17 hours ago · Published on 19 Sep 2020 9:59AM ·

WITH Sabah going to the polls next Saturday, the news is focusing on personalities, political parties and positioning. This is the norm when covering election campaigns – contenders and their platforms are assessed, and projections made.

For ordinary Sabahans, whose primary concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic are their families and livelihoods, the most serious issue they’re grappling with is poverty.

While rich in resources, Sabah has the highest poverty rate in Malaysia. According to the Statistics Department’s (DoS) 2019 Household Income and Expenditure Survey, the state’s incidence of poverty is 19.5% of households, almost four times the national average of 5.6%.

To put this into context, an estimated 615,000 Sabahans struggle to feed their families each day, or can’t afford phones. They don’t have the luxury of reading online articles, and in some cases, can’t send their children to school.

Poverty in the state is often simplified as the product of federal government neglect, illegal immigration or the lack of funding for basic needs and infrastructure. All these factors matter, but not in clear-cut terms. In fact, there are different types of poverty and various causes.

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