Malaysia: Cost of living woes linked to salary stagnation

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Typical of Malaysia's salary negotiation technics in the run-up to a developed nation

KUALA LUMPUR — It is proverbial among the local workforce that Malaysia, a country rich in so many ways, has an acute cost of living problem.

As a result of our own little survey and we just scratched the surface, showed that salaries are still far behind the norm of modern nations that are called ‘developed nations’ while disparity in the salaries of the managerial force and between top level managers and mid-level managers are unbelievably incomprehensible.

A recent Salary Report by Jobstreet showed that salaries at managerial level in the central regions of Malaysia are stuck between Rm5000 to RM14,000, the latter being the maximum and is rarely seen.

The minimum listed seems to be RM4900 in the printing, publishing and tourism sectors, the Salary Report 2017 showed.

In its 2015 StreetSmart and Salary Guide for Malaysia, Jobstreet listed the minimum salary for the mid-managerial level at RM2300 (wholesale sector) and the maximum was RM19,000 and this was for the now depleted oil and gas sector.

It is clear that very few at the managerial or mid-managerial level earns more than RM6000 to RM7000 monthly.
It is certain the 2017 report may have missed the lowest salary at the mid-managerial level because it is certainly not RM4900 as small companies are still paying below RM3500.

The data in the two years that separates the publication of the two reports shows two things: First of all, salaries did not rise in Malaysia since 2015. And it is the case for many working Malaysians at the lower levels as our own survey indicated.

Secondly, the gap between mid-level and high-level management is sometimes extremely high, though it is only seen in a few companies on paper.

But in reality, the acute culture of cronyism in local companies – whether they are public listed or not – have deep roots in the country.

In many cases, there are vast discrepancies in some cases where higher level managers are paid twice as much than the mid-level managers.

Needless to say that mid-level managers are tasked with most of the responsibilities while the top management attention is literally hooked to the computer screen.

Blue-eyed boys and girls are paid at least 30% more than their peers and are doing less work.

When you compare the rising cost of living and the rate of salary increases, it is obvious that both are not on par with each other.

“It means that the people’s salary is not increasing that much.

“That said, it would make people resort to making their own business, which is very commendable but for a country that is expected to be a high-income nation in a few years time, it is not expected.

“Though things in Malaysia are still considered very cheap due to the low salaries, the country has to fix this problem before it declares its a developed nation,” said a street-smart entrepreneur to The Independent.

A simple search on Jobstreet’s website shows salary discrepancies that are not in the Jobstreet report