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Siaran Akhbar

Malaysia aims to become a high-income country by 2025, can we seriously make it?

Sep 27, 2022

Malaysia aims to become a high-income country by 2025, defined as the average household income of RM10,000 per month. 2025 is only 3 years away, can we seriously make it?

Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs YB Dato’ Rosol Bin Wahid said that once the research by the Department of Statistics Malaysia is completed by the end of the year, the number of low-income groups of B40 will increase and may become the B60. Then the media under the headline of this news will read : Poverty levels have decreased.

If you look at per capita income, it is actually not really accurate, because there is a gap between the rich and the poor. For example, according to the recent data released by the Deparment of Statistics Malaysia, the average monthly income of Penangites is RM6,169, but because of the gap between the rich and the poor, the income of a few rich people has pushed up the average figure, so what is the actual income amount for the poor?

According to the current definition, B40 income is below RM4,850 per month, M40 income is RM4,851 to RM10,970, and T20 income is above RM10,971. So what kind of job can earn up to RM10,000 per month in our country? Is this the average monthly salary for our labor market?

The goal of becoming a high-income country by 2025 refers to the average household income. Let’s take an example of a small family, where a couple needs to earn an average of RM5,000 per month to manage the family. Is it that simple to find a job with a RM5,000 wage ?Nevertheless, the data does show that the average income of self-employed persons and businessmen in the country is averaging RM5,000 a month.

Don’t forget, the minimum wage system for the private sector is now RM1,500 and the minimum starting salary for civil servants is RM1,208, a far cry compared to the sum of RM 5000.

Let’s take a look at the engineers. The latest survey by the Board of Engineers Malaysia (LJM) found that about 35% of engineers in our country earn a starting salary of less than RM2,000, ranking after the medical and health and finance sectors. The average annual salary increase for engineers in the public and private sectors in Malaysia over the past 20 years has grown by 2.9% and 2.2% respectively, while falling short of the country’s inflation rate of 3.2%.

Getting employers to pay their employees more is the quickest way to increase Malaysia workers’ income, but the RM1,500 minimum wage policy has also caused a wave of backlash from employers. It appears unlikely that employers will pay more because employers will claim that they also have their own challenges.

What should the government do if Malaysia wants to become a high-income country by 2025? Clear goals and direction needs to be set and then followed through.
However, with GE15 looming ahead, are we going down memory lane once again where false promises are trumpeted for the obvious reasons of winning the election.
Choosing your candidates wisely is one thing but one wonders if the goal of achieving a high-income country is going to be rhetoric as well.

Baljit Singh
Gerakan Vice President