Malaysia’s Final MDG Review Analyses 15 Years Of Development Efforts

Feb 23, 2016

Putrajaya, 23 February 2016 – The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) together with the United Nations (UN) jointly unveiled the Malaysia Millennium Development Goals 2015 report today at an event officiated by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department YB Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar. He was joined by Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam and UNFPA Representative for Malaysia.

Prepared jointly by EPU and the UN in Malaysia in close cooperation with Department of Statistics Malaysia, the relevant Ministries and agencies, the final country report for the Millennium Development Goals analyses the performance and experience as well as the outcome of development efforts at the national and sub-national levels over the past 15 years. Furthermore, the report also highlights the key challenges the country faces as it moves into the post-2015 agenda.

Ms. Gyles-McDonnough said, “The MDG report is a review of Malaysia’s commitment to the MDGs. The report shows the success of policies that have contributed to achievement of the MDGs.  It also highlights remaining development challenges to be addressed under 11th Malaysia Plan and through implementation of the transformative 2030 global development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals.  It will be important to ensure that policies and programmes are sustainable, resilient and inclusive to build a foundation for improved quality of life for all in the country.”

The launch was attended by over 500 people from government, international organisations, civil society, the private sector, academia, think tanks, as well as youths. The Report follows on the two earlier MDG country reports, in 2005 and 2010, which presented similar analyses at the national and sub-national levels.

“ The nation’s development has always been people-focused, and MDGs agenda had been well integrated in the national development framework. With strong and continuous government’s efforts supported by socioeconomic stability and growth of the economy, Malaysia managed to meet the MDGs and uplift the wellbeing of all Malaysians for the last fifteen years, Malaysia surpassed many of the national targets as well as the MDGs. Under the inclusive development agenda of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, the government is fully committed to continue uplift the wellbeing of the rakyat in line with the SDGs framework.”

Among the key findings of the MDG 2015 report is:

MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty & hunger

Absolute poverty in Malaysia has largely been eradicated and the poverty gap reduced. Furthermore, income equality has improved from Gini 0.443 (1999) to 0.401 (2014); employment-to-population ratio has remained stable (63.4% - 65.6% from 2000-2014); low unemployment rates (<4%) have been sustained; and the percentage of underweight children under five years between 1990 and 2014 has been more than halved. However, moving beyond the MDGs, the remaining needs of vulnerable populations among the bottom-40 (B40) income group, retirees, natural disaster victims,  and the youth in both rural and remote areas need to be addressed. Malaysia must also look to develop a comprehensive social protection programme.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Malaysia has achieved universal primary education for boys and girls and expanded the educational provisions to secondary education. Also, dropouts in the transition from primary to secondary levels fell from: 9.95% (2000) to 2.71% (2014). Malaysia sustained high youth literacy, achieved gender parity, and improved the literacy and numeracy skills of Year 1-3 students for both genders (as shown by results of LINUS and LINUS 2.0 programmes).

The remaining challenges are access to education for those not in schools at primary and secondary levels, reaching unreached children and education for children of non-citizens. There is also a need to improve the equity and quality of educational outcomes.

MDG 3: Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women

Malaysia has achieved gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary education.  Female labour force participation rate (LFPR) has risen from 47.2% to 49% between 2000 and 2012 to 53.6% in 2014 as more women join the labour force, although this is still lower than the OECD average of 61%. Women are also moving into the non-agricultural and higher value added sectors. The share of women among professionals is rising and women are also in decision-making roles in the public and private sectors, i.e. at 30%.

However, there are concerns on the low participation of women in political and economic decision-making. Gender disaggregated data and gender related information need improvement. The reported domestic violence and gender-based violence is increasing. Although the number of reported rape offences has declined, the alleged perpetrators of rape by boys and young men are  rising, with half of the victims being children (13 to 16). Under-age marriages, pregnancies and adolescent births, too, are on the rise.

MDG 4: Reducing Child Mortality

Malaysia’s child mortality rates are comparable to rates in high-income and developed nations. However, the majority of under-five deaths occur in the 1st year of life, particularly in the first 28 days (neonatal). There is high immunisation coverage of the one-year olds for measles, mumps and rubella.

The remaining issues under this goal are to address perinatal and neonatal mortality, the non-health determinants of child death, the needs of vulnerable children and the persistent high rates of child mortality amongst Orang Asli; and also to improve medically certified deaths.

MDG 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria & Other Diseases


Under this goal, Malaysia successfully halted and reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS since 2002 while HIV/AIDS-related deaths peaked in 2007 and have since declined. HIV/AIDS transmission amongst people who inject drugs (PWID) has declined significantly. Malaysia’s HIV epidemic shows the characteristics of a concentrated epidemic – as defined by WHO, the prevalence is concentrated amongst key populations. Intervention programmes have reached more than half the key of less than 0.5 percent in general affected populations, which is significant progress in terms of universal treatment access.

The remaining issues  to further curb the spread of HIV. AIDS in particular through sexual transmission, creating a balance between preventive and curative interventions as well as creating an enabling environment and providing resources for sustained treatment coverage so that achievements are not reversed.


Malaysia has successfully halted and reversed the incidence of human malaria ahead of the 2015 target - 76% reduction in incidence between 2000 and 2014. Most malaria reductions are from locally-transmitted cases while imported cases are fairly constant. Mortality rates and case fatality rates of malaria are low.

However, there is an emergence and re-emergence of new and virulent strains; a lack of surveillance amongst high risk populations; and the need to control P.vivax which is harder to detect, and continue surveillance of P.knowlesi (zoonotic malaria).


Malaysia has maintained relatively high cure rates (78%) but the number of deaths has increased gradually since 2000. TB-HIV co-infection peaked in 2008, and has since declined. Multi-drug resistant TB is relatively low in Malaysia compared to globally.

Malaysia must address the TB issue as it has re-emerged since 1985, mostly among Malaysians who accounted for 85.8% of all TB cases in 2013. Detection rates have gone up, especially amongst vulnerable groups. Sustainability of the National Tuberculosis Programme is a must and continuation of meaningful and effective partnerships to improve treatment outcomes is needed. There is also a need to manage high-risk groups.

MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Under MDG 7, Malaysia is a signatory to several multi-lateral environmental agreements and national initiatives have incorporated environmental concerns. The carbon intensity per GDP has declined by 33% in 2015, ozone depleting substances namely CFC, Halons, CTC and MTC have been successfully phased out since 2010, More than 50% forest cover has been maintained since 1990s, and a network of protected areas (terrestrial & marine) established, Efforts have been made to conserve threatened species; treated water supply; and improved sanitation coverage has been sustained at high levels, even in rural areas; and the number of households in living in squatter conditions have declined.

However, Malaysia still has a high ecological footprint. Hence, the need to achieve sustainable development and increase resilience. A high number of threatened species and increased pressures on fisheries resources – all point to the need for improved conservation efforts. There is also a decline in the availability of clean water resources, while water demand is rising. There are also the issues of housing affordability and the need to improve the living conditions of public housing.

MDG 8: Global Partnership for Development

Malaysia is an active contributor to development assistance and provides assistance to other countries by continuing its subscription to multi-lateral development banks and through its Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme, as well as the sharing of its experiences of the Economic Transformation Programme and Government Transformation Programme. Malaysia has promoted global partnerships via bilateral, multilateral and regional collaborations and works closely with the UN System and supports initiatives through Malaysian NGOs and the private sector.

Moving forward, there is a need to have a strategic framework for future partnerships, ensure sustainability, relevance and efficiency of partnerships for development and to further explore and enhance public-private partnerships.

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, the UN Resident Coordinator highlighted the usefulness of the Report as Malaysia transitions from the MDGs to the new global agenda – the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN Resident Coordinator added that, “The 2030 Agenda is ambitious, universal and more holistic than its predecessor. It applies to all countries at all income levels instead of just developing countries. One of the key challenges is for the SDGs to move away from being aspirational at the international level and bring them into actions at the country level and to local levels. The SDGs will have to be relevant and prioritized according to national, sub-national and local development needs; and mainstreamed into development policies, plans and strategies for effective implementation

For example, it is inspiring to learn that the 11th Malaysia Plan incorporates Malaysia’s unfinished MDG business and in principle, the SDGs. Notably, Strategic Thrust 1 corresponds to SDG 1 and SDG 10, and Strategic Thrust 4 on Green Growth corresponds to SDG 12, 13, 14 and 15. The next step will be to align the subnational and local development plans and strategies to the SDGs.”

The UN Resident Coordinator’s speech echoed Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak’s Foreword in the report, where he said, “Despite our achievements, we acknowledge that many challenges lie ahead if we are to fulfil our goal of inclusive and sustainable development and realize our vision of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable nation, a target we have set ourselves to reach by 2020. These development priorities have been outlined in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) adopted by Parliament in mid-2015, and pave an ambitious agenda to ensure that a people-centred development agenda continues to deliver transformational results to all Malaysians.”

Malaysia Millennium Development Goals report 2015 can be downloaded at



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.

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