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Malaysia’s MDG 2010 report underlines growing inequalities despite national progress

Millennium Development Goals
Disaggregated assessments make it possible to identify areas and groups in society left behind or even left out of Malaysia's overall progress towards the MDGs

                                              © UNICEF Malaysia/2011/Zahri

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, YB Dato' SK Devamany browses through the MDG 2010 Report together with UN Malaysia Resident Coordinator Mr. Kamal Malholtra and EPU Director-General Dato' Noriyah binti Ahmad

PUTRAJAYA, 28 April 2011 – The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) together with the United Nations (UN) jointly unveiled the Malaysia: Millennium Development Goals at 2010 report today at an event officiated by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department YB Dato’ S.K Devamany. He was joined by UN Resident Coordinator to Malaysia, Mr. Kamal Malhotra and EPU Director General Dato’ Noriyah binti Ahmad.

According to Mr. Malhotra, the Report highlights Malaysia’s impressive achievements, in aggregate terms, towards the MDGs, including in poverty eradication, universal primary education and child survival. Mr. Malhotra however cautioned the need to address disparities and inequalities that are accompanying Malaysia’s progress towards the MDGs.

“There are some persistent areas of concern and new issues which have emerged which are now urgent in view of Malaysia’s ambitions to promote inclusive development and become a high-income, developed nation by 2020,” said Mr. Malhotra. “The MDGs on which Malaysia needs to make accelerated national level progress at this stage include maternal mortality, universal access to reproductive health, the share of women in managerial positions and political representation, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”

Disaggregated assessment

© UNICEF Malaysia/2011/Zahri
Expert panelists for the MDG 2010 Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, YM Professor Dr. Tengku Aizan Hamid and Prof Dr. Ragayah Haji Mat Zin join the panel moderator Mr. Hans Olsen who is also UNICEF Representative to Malaysia.

Prepared by the UN in Malaysia in close cooperation with the EPU, the Report for the first time assesses both progress at the national levels as well as by state, rural-urban location, gender, age, ethnicity, disability and other disaggregated categories.

The collaborative effort involving various ministries and UN agencies in the country sought to identify inequalities in income, education and health to ensure more targeted interventions for vulnerable, marginalised and hard-to-reach populations in the country.

Amongst others, the Report seeks to identify regions and sub-national population groups which have been left behind or left out as well as emerging issues that have become important as a consequence of Malaysia’s chosen development path. This Review also will help the Government with its commitment to the MDG-Plus agenda through the Tenth Malaysia Plan which has allocated 30 per cent of the five year development agenda to the social sector.

Pockets of inequalities

On behalf of the MDG Study Team Leader, UN Malaysia Coordination Specialist Dr. Lin Mui Kiang presented the key findings from the Report:

§ Malaysia has achieved the aggregate MDG objective of halving poverty by achieving an impressive reduction of people living on less than $1/day, from 17% in 1990 to below 4% in 2009 . Nevertheless, for example, Sabah is not on track. The poverty level in rural Sabah which is over 30%, having increased over the last couple of years, is of particular concern.

§ School attendance in Primary Education has increased rapidly for both boys and girls and is now above 95%. However, certain indigenous groups and children living in remote areas are still lagging behind and a percentage figure on of attendance does not say anything about the quality of education which can differ vastly between schools and geographical areas. Drop-out rates at secondary level are also significantly higher in rural than urban schools.

§ While Malaysia has done very well in achieving virtual gender parity in access to education, women's participation in the job market has stagnated at around 45 - 50%, women earn almost 30% less than men and women remain grossly under represented in Parliament. This is the same picture as could be seen 10 years ago.

§ Malaysia has done well compared to other developing nations on reducing maternal mortality, but the decrease from 44 per 100,000 live births in 1990 plateaued at around 28 per 100.000 live births almost a decade ago and has not changed since. Compared to the group of developed countries that Malaysia aspires to join, this is still high. In OECD countries the figure is around 6 per 100,000.

§ The spread of HIV in Malaysia has been halted and the number of reported cases has gone down from a peak in 2002 of almost 7.000 cases to 3.000 in 2009. Still, the proportion of women infected by HIV has almost doubled, from 9.4% in 2000, to 18% in 2009.

Inclusive development

Academic views about the Report were also shared by a three-person expert panel comprising YM Professor Dr. Tengku Aizan Hamid, Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria and Professor Dr. Ragayah Haji Mat Zin and moderated by UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Mr. Hans Olsen.

In keeping with the spirit and intent of the MDGs to promote equitable and inclusive development, and to localise the goals, making them relevant to country-specific realities, circumstances and aspirations, Mr. Malhotra urged the Government and people of Malaysia to use the Report as a guide to tackle the inequalities and address the challenges highlighted.

“I hope that this report will be a source of inspiration as well as provide the practical guidance needed for Malaysia to meet its remaining developmental challenges and attain both full MDG achievement as soon as possible and Vision 2020,” added Mr. Malhotra.

Malaysia: Millennium Development Goals at 2010 can be downloaded at:,, and



The UN Millennium Summit in 2000 adopted the Millennium Declaration which provided the impetus for the creation of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which commit UN member states to join forces in the fight against poverty, hunger, illiteracy, gender inequality, child mortality, maternal mortality and universal access to reproductive health, HIV and AIDS, environmental degradation, and a global partnership for development. These are time-bound development goals, which outcomes and targets to be achieved by 2015.

For more information, please contact the UN Communication Group in Malaysia:

Ahmad Hafiz Osman
UNDP Media, Kuala Lumpur
(+6.03) 2091 5154 ● (+6) ) 012 302 1234

Yante Ismail
UNHCR Media, Kuala Lumpur
(+6) 013 352 6286

Indra Kumari Nadchatram
UNICEF Media, Kuala Lumpur
(+6.03) 2095 5157 ● (+6) 012 292 6872





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16 March 2010:
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