By Steven Sim
Prime Minister Najib Razak and former Pemandu Minister Idris Jala boasted that Malaysia was “just 15% short” of becoming a high-income nation.
Yet, based on a report given to me in Parliament by the Human Resources Minister on August 3, the reality is very gloomy.
I asked a question on the number of job opportunities created in the last few years. The Minister gave me the following answer:
Refusing to give details on the breakdown of these jobs by industry, the Minister merely said that they were in “key sectors such as manufacturing, construction, agriculture, plantation and services”.
According to the same Minister, in the last four years, the average salary offered was only between RM1,000-RM5,000.
Contrast this to the so-called M40, the government’s own definition of middle 40% income earners with monthly incomes between RM3,860-RM8,319.
In other words, the only jobs offered in the last four years were low- and lower-middle income jobs.
No effort to tackle employment issues of young Malaysians
Worse news yet? Even these low and lower-middle income jobs were unattainable to young Malaysians whose unemployment rate is on the rise.
While our Minister proudly crows over 672,000 jobs in the past four years, young Malaysians are still struggling to get employment.
The youth unemployment rate in the country has increased by almost 4% since 2013. According to Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Annual Report released in March this year, youth unemployment rate “reached 10.7% in 2015, more than three times higher than the national unemployment rate of 3.1%”.
Out of the roughly 468,000 unemployed persons in Malaysia in 2015, a whopping 60% were young Malaysians aged 20-29 years old.
This data is not unexpected. Under the previous governor, BNM itself had warned of a crisis of confidence and credibility against Malaysia’s economy due to unresolved financial controversies.
In the midst of the 1MDB financial controversy, all Malaysians have been suffering from the economic consequences of the GST to the rising cost of living, to unemployment and stagnated incomes.
Steven Sim Chee Keong is MP for Bukit Mertajam, and deputy spokesperson for the DAP Parliamentary Committee for Human Resources.
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