This study employs a synthetic panel approach based on nationally representative micro data to track poverty and income mobility in Malaysia in the period 2004-2016. While on aggregate we observe large reductions in chronic poverty and increases in persistent economic security, we find that poverty and mobility trends differ notably across geographic dimensions. Such disparities are most striking when we contrast affluent urban Peninsular Malaysia with poorer rural East Malaysia and could indicate the presence of a geographic poverty trap. Although there are important differences in welfare levels between headline ethnic groups, we observe that mobility trends generally point in the same direction. However, we observe that there is also a regional element to ethnic inequalities. For example, significant differences exist between Bumiputera in Peninsular Malaysia and Bumiputera in East Malaysia, the latter experiencing more chronic poverty, more downward mobility and less upward mobility. Our findings imply that, to further decrease chronic poverty and increase income mobility, the current affirmative action policies may need to shift focus towards a more region-based approach.