PETALING JAYA: PKR Youth has slammed Tengku Zafrul Aziz for telling millennials not to spend beyond their means, calling on the finance minister to focus instead on addressing key underlying issues, such as stagnant wages and the lack of job opportunities.
PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir chided the finance minister over his lack of sensitivity to what the people are facing in the wake of the pandemic, urging him to instead focus on finding solutions that can help increase people’s income.
“It is not appropriate for the finance minister to reprimand young people about financial management with his income, which is far greater than ordinary people.
“Tengku Zafrul needs to have empathy and put himself in the shoes of young people who are struggling with the lack of job opportunities, job security, the high cost of living and low pay,” the Johor Bahru MP said in a statement today.
Speaking at a financial awareness programme in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Tengku Zafrul said 40% of millennials are spending beyond their means, and advised them to “think thoroughly” and prioritise their purchases.
Pointing out that the comments exemplified the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s practice of passing the blame, Akmal said there are many factors that need to be examined before generalising about youths being ignorant or irresponsible in their financial management.
Akmal added that although the 12th Malaysia Plan has failed to be tabled until now, the government still has to explain how it plans to increase the minimum wage and employment opportunities, reduce the unemployment rate and many other related issues over the coming years.
He added that while there is no denying the importance of financial literacy and efforts by various agencies, such as the Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency, the youth are still stifled by the slow increase in salary increments combined with a low minimum wage rate.
Citing a study conducted by career consulting firm Mercer Malaysia at the end of 2019 that the percentage of nominal wage increase in Malaysia after taking into account inflation was 2.6%, Akmal noted that Malaysia was lagging behind Vietnam (5.3%), Indonesia (4.3%), Thailand (4%), Singapore (3.5%) and the Philippines (2.8%) in this regard.
“The findings were (obtained) before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. With the country’s economy still recovering from the health crisis, these figures surely paint a more worrying picture (now),” Akmal said.