3e: Economic Justice
The vision to achieve a just, equitable and inclusive society is enshrined in the
Rukunegara, which was conceptualised in 1970. We are far from realising this
national aspiration. This policy area encapsulates the aspirations of our People to
work and live with dignity in a fair and inclusive Nation. The key proposals focus
on policies and the requisite institutional-leg
al frameworks to ensure economic
rights and social justice for all our People.
I. Inclusive Society
Malaysians support policies and programmes that look out equally for all and
help the needy, regardless of social status, race or religion. We also welcome
policies that promote participation, capability and diversity. However, the
political rhetoric over the New Economic Policy and its subsequent incarnations
has downplayed these aspirations. This is an opportunity for a national policy to
provide clarity on these objectives, and to align programmes in a systematic and
constructive manner. A new policy framework that safeguards equality in basic
rights, dignity and well-being, while promoting participation, capability and
diversity is required.
(Dr. Lee Hwok Aun, Proposal 3E-1)
1. Build a cohesive society based on equality and fairness.
Reformulate the pillars of development to make it inclusive, based on:
i. Equality—provision of basic needs and decent living standards to all,
based on the principles of equality, dignity and human rights. These
policies specifically involve basic education, public health services,
nutrition, social protection, shelter, basic income and decent work
ii. Fairness—develop capabilities and promote participation in order to
reduce intergroup disparities in access, opportunity, capability and
representation, and ultimately to narrow income and wealth gaps. The
key areas are tertiary education, professional-managerial occupations,
enterprise development, wealth and property ownership.
(Dr. Lee Hwok Aun, Proposal 3E-1)
2. Establish an Equal Opportunity Employment Commission to safeguard
minority groups from discrimination at the workplace.
(Anusha Arumugam, Proposal 3E-2)
Young Malaysians from minority groups have raised concerns over racial
discrimination in employment, particularly with regards to opportunities for
career development. Institutional and legal measures should be set in place to
reduce and prevent issues of racial discrimination, based on principles of equality
3. Promulgate a Social Inclusion Act and establish an independent Social
Inclusion Commission directly answerable to Parliament.
(Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, Proposal 3E-3)
Forty per cent of Malaysians are still trapped in the intergenerational cycle of
poverty and inequality. Vulnerable individuals and groups continue to encounter
prejudice, discrimination and remain marginalised. We need an independent
commission to oversee poverty reduction, marginalisation and social
inclusiveness. Furthermore, a Social Inclusion Act should be enacted to establish
legal provisions for specific matters such as:
i. Fulfilling the basic needs of all people fairly and equitably.
ii. Upholding the fundamental values of self-reliance, self-esteem and the
dignity of our people.
iii. Providing our children with the capability to break the intergenerational
cycle of poverty and inequality.
II: Impact of COVID-19 on Vulnerable Groups
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inherent weaknesses of Malaysia’s
numerous social protection programmes. The overarching system is not designed
to meet the basic needs of food and shelter, nor to adequately address the
socioeconomic vulnerabilities and fiscal challenges that affect a sizeable
proportion of our population and residents of this country. A comprehensive
social protection system is imperative to ensure that the basic needs of all
citizens, especially the vulnerable, are met.
4: Ensure social protection for low-income households headed by women.
Women and children from low-income urban households are among those who
have been most adversely impacted. COVID-19 has vastly reduced women’s
economic opportunities, particularly those working part-time and informally with
low pay and no savings. This group experienced disproportionate difficulties in
accessing social safety nets, healthcare services and internet connectivity/
technology. The social protection system needs to be re-evaluated to provide
robust and comprehensive protection, especially for women and children from
the urban poor and vulnerable communities.
i. Design specific social protection policies to provide for low-income
households headed by women.
ii. Establish a central coordinating committee with representation from all
stakeholders to address issues and coordinate social assistance
(Lim Su Lin, People’s Health Forum, Proposal 3E-4)
5. Conduct a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot experiment to evaluate
the suitability of full implementation by 2025.
(Dr. Nurul Kauthar, IKRAM Pulau Pinang, Proposal 3E-5)
The UBI is one way of addressing income security for the most vulnerable
III. Affordable Public Housing for Targeted Groups in
Need of Decent Shelter
The national median monthly household income of a household of four in 2019
is RM5,873, rendering affordable housing beyond the means of at least 50% of
the people. It will take at least 60 times this amount to get a decent shelter. The
provision of adequate housing is a fundamental right under the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
6. Take steps towards collaborative, affordable, community-based
i. Adopt the Industrialised Building System (a Malaysian term to describe
the use of automation, mechanisation and prefabrication of components
for the building industry) and the 3-D printing method, and use
environmentally sustainable housing materials.
ii. Establish a national youth housing project based on the rent-to-own
iii. Enhance funding for community housing through the use of Petronas
dividends, Permodalan Nasional Berhad investment contributions and
(CS Loh & Dr. Tai Tuck Leong, Monsoon Malaysia, Proposal 3E-6)
7. Adopt an efficient public housing policy.
To contain the rising cost of urban housing that is affected by real estate
speculation in a free market economy:
i. devolve powers to state governments and local authorities to supply
ii. transform unmarketable apartments/condominiums into public housing
rentable units. Establish a universal criterion for rental eligibility by
proximity to work location, irrespective of income group.
iii. give fresh graduates a subsidy for public housing rental and accord this
group higher priority when it comes to approval of such rentals.
(Wong Tsu Soon, Agora Society Malaysia, Proposal 3E-7)
8. Promulgate an Estate Workers Housing Act.
The demand for guarantee of housing for estate workers stems from a legacy of
being denied basic housing ownership rights for over three decades. Once their
contract period ends, estate workers are vulnerable to eviction since they do not
possess legal ownership over their living quarters. The low wages mean that
workers are often unable to afford a house, even houses built under the
government’s affordable housing schemes, as prices are constantly rising. The
Housing Scheme for Estate Workers, formulated by then prime minister Tun
Abdul Razak Hussein in the 1970s, was a laudable policy on paper but its
implementation and enforcement remain far from reality.
An Estate Workers Housing Act is needed to ensure that:
i. owners/employers adopt and abide by the Housing Scheme ownership
policy for current and ex-workers.
ii. the Housing Scheme for Estate Workers is fully subsidised by the federal
or state government.
iii. current services and facilities for workers are retained in the new housing
(Karthigesu Manickam, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-8)
9. Stop evicting urban pioneers.
Urban pioneer villages have been around for almost 50 years. The current
residents are third- and fourth-generation descendants of villagers or estate
workers who had migrated to the cities for survival, and were even welcomed by
the government, as additional labour was needed for the growing cities. In the
1970s and 1980s, the government allocated land to these pioneers for farming
purposes. However, the villages are located on private property and government
reserve land, and the residents are now under constant threat of eviction. The
contribution of urban pioneers to the development of our cities is immeasurable
and needs to be duly recognised by:
i. Recognising the existing villages as traditional villages and giving the
villagers the requisite land grants.
ii. Providing communities identified for relocation with alternative housing
prior to any eviction or demolition. Alternatively, a temporary transit
housing with fair rental must be provided till the alternative housing is
iii. Ensuring that the alternative housing is near the original village to reduce
disruption to the urban pioneers’ livelihood.
iv. Promulgating an Anti-Eviction Act to ensure the fundamental rights of
pioneers to alternative land/housing and adequate compensation.
(Parameswary Elumalai, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-9)
10. Local councils must be responsible for the maintenance of low-cost
The physical state of low-cost flats in the country is generally appalling, resulting
in an unconducive living environment for occupant families, while negatively
affecting their physical and mental health. Under statutory law, the Joint
Management Body (JMB) of each low-cost development is responsible for
overseeing maintenance and cleanliness. However, the monthly fees imposed by
JMBs are often beyond what the majority of tenants can afford, on top of having
to pay assessment and land/parcel taxes.
Further, there have been many reported cases of low-cost flat residents being
subjected to unjust treatment by local authorities, such as having to pay the local
council double the amount charged to residents of low-cost-terraced houses for
Henceforth, to ease the burden of low-cost flat dwellers, all local councils should
assume responsibility for the maintenance services of low-cost flats, with
appropriate checks and balances in place to ensure integrity in the process.
(Madhavi Sahatuan, MARHAEN, Proposal 3E-10)
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