You’ve heard of the Big Mac Index. Now be introduced to the Sarong Index. Malaysia boleh!
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The eminent economist Ungku Aziz, whose insight on rural poverty remains unmatched, once proposed the “sarong index” as a measure of rural Malay poverty. You count the number of sarongs in a household and divide that by the number of dwellers (excepting infants, who presumably would still be in their diapers).

The lower that number the greater is the poverty, with an index of less than one (more people than sarong) signifying extreme poverty. Perhaps that explains why the poor have large families; they are, in the language of my old kampong, sharing the same sarong too often!

With politicians now routinely giving out sarong pelakat to Malay voters during elections, I suggest a new “sarong index,” this time as a measure of political corruption. Divide the number of sarongs distributed by the number of Malay voters. The higher the number, the more corrupt the politician, and the more competitive the constituency or the position sought.

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