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Statistical bullshit?


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Interesting report.

A sudden drop of poverty rate, a bit drop, just when the general election is looming close.

Question, which I think is very important for us to ask is… how on earth they measure the poverty rate? Talking about poverty rate, we need to know few things.

1. Poverty Line Income.

2. Inflation.

3. Geographical cost of living

4. Size of household

After a little bit of googling, I found out that these are the current Poverty Income Line (PLI) used by Malaysia :

Peninsular Malaysia – RM763

Sarawak – RM912

Sabah – RM1,048

In another words, earning RM800 is not considered poor in KL but is considered so in Sarawak and Sabah. We are using the absolute poverty measurement system, based on the bare minimum World Bank standard of US$2 per capita per day.

There is another way of calculating PLI, which is called relative poverty measurement system. Typically it takes about 50% – 60% of the median income as PLI. Our national monthly household median income is RM2,841 (2009). Our poverty line benchmark realistically.. 50 – 60% = RM1,300- RM1,500? Sounds more realistic?

Developed countries like US, Australia, New Zealand are using that system to measure their poverty level. More realistic. And that is why high income nations like Japan & Korea say their poverty level is about 15%. Compared to us which is only 1.7% now. In 2009, 3.8%. Really???

If I am a cheeky government, while Iooking at income distribution, then use a lower PLI, to get the poverty rate I want.. tadaaa no poverty!

Just like how you can eliminate obesity problem easily by just…… introducing that only BMI above 40 then only considered obese. Heh. In 1998, 29 million Americans found themselves to be overweight because new definition of overweight is above 25 & not 27.8. Oh sucks, now you are a fat ass because the government just changed the definition of fat ass.

And….. same principle applies to our exam passing rate. Say we define above 60 as A. Suddenly we get more students with A. Geddit?

Hence, the need to be transparent with the kind of method and system they used to come with the statistics. Our public exam passing marks, is it transparent?

We cannot trump statistical achievements without revealing the methods used or letting people examine how we obtain the statistics. There is nothing to hide, right?

Looking deeper, there is also a disconnect between the BR1M recipients statistics with the figures given by Najib on ETP/GTP report card the other day. Latest figure given by Najib, our average households income for Malaysians has increased from RM4,025 in 2009 to RM5,000 last year. (2012).

Now, how many BR1M recipients are they? Based on many reports, close to 5 million households (about 80% total Malaysian households) benefitted, and.. they are all earning below RM3,000? In other to qualify for BR1M, your household income must be below RM3,000.

Question. Why close to 80% of total Malaysian households or (30% of Malaysia’s population) were eligible for BR1M (earning below RM3,000) when Average Household Income has risen from RM4,025 (2009) to RM5,000 (2012)?

Another way to look at it is this. Malaysian average household income = RM5,000. And 80% of Malaysian household earning below RM3,000. So, balance 20% earning above RM13,000? Does that sound right? Anyway we should look at median income, which we be a better representation of the whole picture and not using average income, because it is susceptible to outlier. Arithmetics.

Lastly, don’t you think it is cheeky to compare our GNI per capital in 2012 with 1957 to show that “4,000-fold increase” of national income? 1957, we just achieved our independence. We got no highways, high buildings, we have yet to cut down trees and clear our forests, sell the timbers, plant our oil palms, explore our petroleum. Heck, why not compare with 1857? Why not compare our GNI with neighboring countries? With Singapore?

Good job at massaging the numbers, coming up with pretty and nice statistics. I would like to quote a friend, which said this,

“I only believe in statistics that I doctored myself”

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