Indonesian Official Suggests the Rich Marry the Poor to Reduce Poverty


An Indonesian official has suggested that in order to reduce the country’s national poverty rate, the rich demographic should marry those from low-income households.

The suggestion was made during Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy’s speech at the National Health Work Meeting in Jakarta on Wednesday, according to The Jakarta Post.

“What happened if poor people are looking for other poor people [for marriage]? There will be more poor households. This is a problem in Indonesia,” Muhadjir said.


The former education and culture minister then went on to cite government data stating that the number of poor households in Indonesia was roughly 5 million.

“The number of Indonesian households is 57.1 million, 9.4 percent or 5 million of which are categorized as poor. If added to the near-poor households, it is about 16.8 percent or about 15 million households,” he was quoted according to Tempo.

So as a solution to this matter, as well as the increase of illnesses in low-income households, Muhadjir suggested Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi issue a fatwa that orders “the poor are required to look for the rich [for marriage] and the rich should look for the poor.”

A fatwa is a formal ruling or an interpretation on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified scholar, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. “Fatwas are usually issued in response to questions from individuals or Islamic courts.”

The religious affairs minister, however, does not include the issuing of a fatwa as this is normally issued by Muslim organizations, such as the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), after comprehensive studies by the Fatwa Commission or any religious experts familiar with the matter.

Aside from his suggestion, the Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister also made a proposal for the premarital certification program. Those who are under this program — couples who were not yet economically stable but sought to get married — will receive a pre-employment card from a program that Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo plans to launch this year.

“The goal is that after marriage, the couples will form economically stable households,” Muhadjir said.

With this premarital program, which several countries have already implemented, including Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, the rate of household poverty would be pushed down.

Despite what the World Bank recently reported, stating that approximately 115 million Indonesians — or 45% of the country’s population — have yet to achieve economic security and the lifestyle of the middle class, the country saw progress in reduction of poverty over 15 years.

During the period, poverty rate was pushed down to less than 10% and the number of the middle class has gone up from 7% to 20%.

Feature Image (left) via KEMENDIKBUD RI, (right) via Getty

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