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Alleviating Poverty: 10 Malaysian Leaders And Ministries Who Have Followed Through 

Poverty eradication has always been at the forefront of Malaysian government agendas despite the changing hands in power, namely through the New Economic Policies (NEP) and recently the pledge to eradicate poverty by 2025. 

The Keluarga Malaysia government has set up a hardcore poverty eradication programme pilot project (BMTKM) helmed by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and the Implementation Coordination Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department[1].

As poverty is multidimensional, we identify others who have also spurred changes and elevated the B40 group in education, health, and socio-economic standing from 2018 to 2022. 

Let’s take a look at 10 Malaysian politicians, ministers and ministries who have followed through on promises to alleviate or eradicate poverty. There remains room for improvement, however, their efforts have helped the B40 survive and in some cases improve for the better.

#1: Yang Berhormat Anthony Loke

Anthony Loke Siew Fook is the current Seremban Member of Parliament (MP). However, he served as Minister of Transport under the Pakatan Harapan coalition government from 2018 to 2020. 

There is a heavy reliance on private transport in the country, resulting in Malaysians spending close to 10% of total household expenses on transport costs in 2015[2]. Half of the low-income households were found to have a private vehicle in 2012[2].

However, the B40 group, especially the youth, will have to bear the brunt of car loan payments, leaving little to no savings. Malaysians spent 50% more on transport costs in comparison to Hong Kong and Tokyo[2]

Understanding this predicament, one of the changes set in stone by Anthony is encouraging public transport use. One of his initiatives includes the launch of the My50 and My100 pass in 2019, an unlimited travel pass card on chain public transportation covering the LRT, MRT, Monorail, BRT, and feeder bus services[3].

As of March 29 2019, the My100 travel passes have been subscribed by and benefited 121,303 unique users. In March alone, 87,349 users purchased the pass, and this number is expected to increase in the coming months. – Anthony Loke, Seremban MP[4]

In 2020, the My30 pass was launched by the Perikatan Nasional government replacing the My50 and My100 and up until 2021, nearly one million of the travel pass have been sold. In 2022, My30 was replaced with My50 unlimited travel pass. 


Previously, the government had introduced the My50 and My100 travel facility which received a good response but when we (Perikatan Nasional) took over, we felt there was room for improvement in efforts to encourage more people to use public transport.The My30 initiative involves a relatively large subsidy and is expected to help the people, especially from the B40 segment.  – Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Transport Minister[5]

The initiative has seen growth in public transportation usage by 9%, with 35.6 million users, for the first two months of 2019[3]

#2: Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad 

The Kuala Selangor MP implemented a game-changer initiative in tackling non-communicable diseases amongst the B40 group while serving his tenure as Minister of Health. The Peka B40 programme that has continued despite the downfalls of previous governments is a health screening initiative. The pilot programme targeted 800,000 people aged 40 and above from the B40 group.

Source: Focus Malaysia

We came out with a study on the challenges to the current state of health (in society) … PeKa B40 is truly a game changer in the perspective of health because it focuses on preventive, predictive, screening and treatment measures. – Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, Kuala Selangor MP[6]

Besides providing breast examinations and blood and urine tests, Peka B40 also includes incentives to complete cancer treatment and transport aid. Despite this, the uptake of the programme has been considerably low. Only 600,000 out of the six million eligible Malaysians have utilised the services in the last three years[7]

#3: Yang Berhormat Gobind Singh Deo

A lawyer by profession, the Puchong MP, one of YB Gobind Singh Deo’s achievements includes providing more affordable Internet prices and greater Internet bandwidth (speed and quality) during his tenure as the Minister of Communications and Multimedia. His move provided an increase in speed for fixed broadband packages from 10 Mbps to 30 Mbps. At the same time, the price of broadband packages fell from RM130 to RM79 per month[8]

Source: The Malaysian Reserve

The Mandatory Standard on Access Pricing (MSAP) initiative improved the fixed broadband bandwidth by almost threefold to 70.18 Mbps in 2018 compared to 22.26 Mbps in 2017[9]

After introducing the new price under MSAP, we witnessed a decrease in the broadband plan price. In some cases, it’s almost more than half. The average price among the four telcos has been reduced by 49%. – YB Gobind Singh Deo, Puchong MP[10]

YB Gobind Singh also spurred the groundwork for 5G connectivity, however, multiple political upheavals have seen the slowing down of Malaysia acquiring faster technology. 

#4: Yang Berhormat Maszlee Malik

Maszlee Malik, Simpang Renggam MP’s stint as a Minister of Education may be short-lived, however, he made great strides in improving the quality of education for B40 students. In January 2018, he implemented a policy to provide more access to good education for underprivileged students by providing 60% quotas to B40 students in boarding schools[11]

Another initiative that was monumental in ensuring that no one was left behind is the Zero-Reject Policy allowed all children in Malaysia, including those undocumented and those with special needs to have access to government-funded education. The policy witnessed 2,635 stateless children enrolled in national schools in 2019[11].

This shows our commitment to children. They have a right to education, whoever they are and wherever they come from. – Maszlee Malik, Simpang Renggam MP[12]

With a mission to ensure primary school children are starting their schooling days with nutritious meals, the Free Breakfast Programme initiative was established in January 2020. However, the programme benefited over 2.7 million students and has since been slashed in 2021. 

#5: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Source: Berita Harian

Taking the torch at the height of the national crisis, there are notable contributions by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. These include the implementation of five stimulus programmes anchored on the nation’s largest expenditure valued at RM322.50 billion for 2021[13]

The stimulus packages include a moratorium on the repayment of bank loans, the controversial EPF withdrawals, as well as one-off aids to curb the impact of the pandemic.

#6: Tan Sri Annuar Musa

The Peranti Siswa Keluarga Malaysia was announced under the Budget 2022 promising tablet distribution to 600,000 students to tackle issues of accessing online classes during lockdowns[14]

Source: The Star

However, the programme has faced multiple hiccups starting with the cancellation of the tender by the Ministry of Finance. The tablets were supposed to be delivered by June to 600,000 recipients, instead, 400,000 tablets were dispatched due to budget restrictions with six telco companies pulled out after it was declared that the tablets would only be loaned out[15]

The statement was later retracted. The promised tablets finally landed in their recipient’s hands in September 2022. Tan Sri Annuar Musa, the Communications and Multimedia Minister has also pledged that 5G will be provided to over 1,000 schools by the end of 2022, and over 600 villages in Sarawak will have Internet access through satellite technology under Phase 2 of the National Digital Network Plan (Jendela). However, there is no news or indication of its progress[16]

If we want to wait until all 1,400 villages to fix towers and fibre optic (for Internet access), we estimate it will take 10 years and I think the people need not wait so long. That’s why under Phase 2 of Jendela, Internet access should be expedited by using satellite technology. – Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Communications and Multimedia Minister[16]

#7: Ministry of Education

Under the 11th and the 12th Malaysia Plan, 879 projects to upgrade and rebuild dilapidated schools were approved[17].

In subsequent years, injections of funds have been given by the state and Federal governments. For example, under the Budget 2022, RM 746 million were allocated for upgrading works on 165 schools[18]. The tabling of the 2023 budget sees a further RM1.2 billion allocated to upgrade 182 dilapidated schools in Sarawak and 123 in Sabah[19]

Some have also cited that the fund injection should be more to fix the schools in East Malaysia. 

At least RM3 billion is needed for the repair works. – Former Works Minister Fadillah Yusof[20]

The Education Minister, Radzi Jidin, justified that the average cost of refurbishing dilapidated schools had shot up from RM3.9 mil indicated under the 11th Malaysia Plan to RM10.8 mil in the new plan[18]

The expenditure to upgrade dilapidated schools have been raking up however, the projects have seen halting progress. There have been hold-ups on projects as 190 projects have not even taken off. Five were due to start in 2019, 80 in 2020 and another 105 in 2021[21]

To date, only 575 out of the 879 projects for upgrading and rebuilding dilapidated schools nationwide up until 2021[17]

#8: Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development

In tackling period poverty amongst low-income households, the Budget 2022 allocated 10 million for 130,000 free basic personal hygiene kits that would be distributed under the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) and the Prisons Department[22].

Fast forward to 2022, teenagers from 1,024 secondary schools in urban and rural areas received sanitary pads in phases. The provision of reusable sanitary pads has also been provided to 3,000 teenagers in rural areas including 800 Orang Asli teenagers.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

The first phase of the programme was completed on 30th June 2022.

The second phase for the next eight months will be distributed to the same teenagers by the Prisons Department. – Datuk Siti Zailah Yusoff, The Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister[22]

#9: Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office handling economic matters. One of the initiatives helmed by the department is the recently launched Kemiskinan Tegar Keluarga Malaysia (BMTKM) to eradicate hardcore poverty in Malaysia by 2025. Earlier in 2022, there are 130,709 hardcore individuals recorded in Malaysia. 

(Until Sept 15), there were 130,709 hardcore poor people. We are confident that the number will drop; we should have the ambition and ability to make Malaysia a country which has various parties such as the state governments and departments that will work together in achieving the target. – Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office[23]

Source: Astro Awani

The first phase of the pilot projects in 80 localities has recently concluded. The programme poses a more holistic and comprehensive approach to tackling hardcore poverty in Malaysia. A bottom-up approach that involves the participation of grassroots and target groups in drafting programmes leads to a targeted solution to poverty. 

Every locality has certain needs and strategies. Like Kampung Penimbawan, it is a fishing village, so we provide assistance such as fishing equipment and we will also help them to carry out other activities, like livestock farming, which will be identified by the agencies involved. – Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office[24]

The second phase took off in the middle of October 2022 with the target of helping about 5,000 households. 

#10: Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

The Covid-19 pandemic sees 90,470 individuals in Malaysia have lost their jobs by the end of 2021[25]. The caretaker government helmed by Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has launched multiple initiatives in opening job opportunities for either retrenched or recent graduates through the JaminKerja initiatives that include MyFutureJobs, MySTEP and UpSkillMalaysia portals. 

Source: Utusan Malaysia

The Malaysia Short-Term Employment Programme (MySTEP) was allocated RM1.7 billion to create 80,000 jobs this year. The programme has managed to secure jobs for more than 63,000 (63,221) graduates in 2021, surpassing the target of 50,000 job placements[26]. At least 66% of the job placements were in various government ministries and 34% in GLCs[26].

The job-seeking portal, MyFutureJobs saw 1.25 million registered job seekers and 414,339 applicants secured new job placements through the portal in 2021[27]

Explore our sources:

  1. N.Daim. (2022). Keluarga Malaysia hardcore poverty eradication to start in April. New Straits Times. Link 
  2. C.Yeap. (2015). The State of the Nation: Rethinking urban transport and cost of high car ownership. The Edge Markets. Link 
  3. A.Dorall. (2020). Did Anthony Loke Really Make Travel Easier For All? The Rakyat Post. Link 
  4. A.S.Mohsen. (2019). 121,000 commuters subscribe My100 travel passes. The Sun Daily. Link 
  5. The Star. (2021). Nearly one million have subscribed to My30 unlimited travel pass since its launch, says Transport Ministry. Link 
  6. Bernama. (2020). Health care scheme for B40 group a ‘game changer’ – Dzulkefly. MalaysiaKini. Link 
  7. Z.Morden. (2022). Khairy: 90pc of eligible Malaysians missing out on PeKA B40 free health check. Malay Mail. Link 
  8. A.Dorall. (2020). Future-Driven Gobind Singh: Was Cheap Internet All He Did? The Rakyat Post. Link
  9. Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. (2019). Fixed Broadband Subscriptions Surges 8X As Consumers Enjoy Faster Internet Speeds.  Link
  10.  S.U.Ariff. (2019). Gobind upbeat over Internet connectivity. New Straits Times. Link 
  11. K.Tee. (2020). Maszlee resigns: A list of the Education Ministry’s notable achievements on his watch. Malay Mail. Link 
  12. C.Lui. (2019). Dr Maszlee: Over 10,000 special needs children enrolled in schools under Zero Reject policy. The Star. Link 
  13. C.Muzaffar. (2021). Muhyiddin government’s 7 achievements ensuring nation’s health. New Straits Times. Link 
  14. J.Lee. (2022). PerantiSiswa tablets for B40 students: Everything you need to know, including eligibility and how to apply for one. SoyaCincau. Link 
  15. H.Zainudin. (2022). Annuar Musa: 1,000 Schools In Malaysia To Receive 5G By End Of The Year. SAYS. Link 
  16. Malay Mail. (2022). Annuar Musa: Comprehensive internet coverage throughout Sarawak by 2024. Link 
  17. The Sun Daily. (2021). 575 projects to upgrade, rebuild dilapidated schools completed as of Nov 10: Radzi. Link 
  18. New Straits Times. (2021). Largest allocation in 2022 Budget for the Education Ministry at RM52.6 billion [NSTTV]. Link
  19. The Borneo Post. (2022). Budget 2023: 182 dilapidated schools in S’wak to be upgraded. Link 
  20. D.Kanyakumari. (2019). Rundown schools in Sarawak a long-term problem, with no easy solution in sight. Channel News Asia. Link 
  21. G.Vinod. (2021).Dilapidated schools: Why repair cost shot up to over RM10 mil, Pakatan asks. Focus Malaysia. Link 
  22. M.Carvalho.,R.Rahim & R.Vethasalam. (2022). Period poverty: 130,000 teens from B40 families given hygiene kits, says Siti Zailah. The Star. Link 
  23. Bernama. (2022). Govt optimistic of achieving zero hardcore poverty by 2025. The Edge Markets. Link 
  24. Bernama. (2022). Govt aims to eradicate hardcore poverty by 2025.  The Malaysian Reserve. Link 
  25. Malaysiakini. (2021). More than 10,000 job opportunities are offered at the Keluarga Malaysia Career Carnival. Link 
  26. Bernama. (2022). MoF allocates RM1.7 bln for MySTEP 2022 to create 80,000 jobs this year – Tengku Zafrul. Astro Awani. Link 
  27. R.Daud. (2021). 414,339 pencari kerja dapat kerja melalui MyFutureJobs. Astro Awani. Link

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