Much like its people, the Malaysian economy is very diverse, which gives it an advantage that many of the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) do not have.
That is but one of the many strengths the Malaysian economy has that should have brought the country on par with the likes of Japan. Unfortunately, like many countries, Malaysia has its shortcomings that more often than not affect the country’s economy greatly, preventing it from becoming a developed nation.
Natural resources such as oil is an advantage that Malaysia has over many neighboring countries. These resources have opened many doors for Malaysia that have given the country an economic boost. It is thanks to these resources that the people have more job opportunities like manufacturing.
A fatal flaw that can ruin a country's economy is corruption. Doing away with this issue can bring the Malaysian economy to new heights. Our country has so much potential to be on par with the likes of Singapore and Japan. It is unfortunate that corruption is a major factor that is a hindrance to its growth.
What Malaysia needs is capable leaders to build a strong foundation for the coming generations to improve. Some may argue that the people can do something about it but that is easier said than done. Political interference makes it difficult for changes to take place. The rich are becoming richer and the rest have to worry about saving every cent.
Back when the British were ruling Malaysia, migrant workers were brought in mainly from China and India. They were a necessity to grow and diversify the economy then. In present time, migrant workers from neighboring countries like Indonesia make up a large part of the population. Unfortunately, Malaysia has become overly dependent on these foreign workers, especially for jobs that many locals are not willing to do.
Furthermore, many of these workers enter Malaysia without proper documentations. They come to Malaysia in hopes of a better life and to provide for their families back home. The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) estimates there are seven million migrant workers residing in Malaysia.
After some time in Malaysia, many of the workers start families of their own and sometimes they have unwanted pregnancies. These workers eventually become entitled to the same benefits as the locals, many of which are funded by the taxes paid. Many of these migrant workers do not contribute in terms of taxes and it is beginning to take a toll on the Malaysian economy.
Migrant workers can still be allowed into the country but there must also be strict regulations. This way there can open up more job opportunities for the local people. Having more Malaysians in the workforce can eventually improve the country's economy and help it grow. However, there has to be an incentive to motivate more Malaysians to take up these job opportunities.
Many Malaysians do not like jobs that pay minimum wage, as it is not enough to live by, especially those living in urban areas where the cost of living is quite high. Due to the low minimum wages, Malaysians tend to seek jobs in other countries just so they can lead comfortable lives. It is becoming increasingly difficult for a young Malaysian living in Kuala Lumpur, Penang or Johor Baharu to have a comfortable lifestyle when earning minimum wage.
Now with the Government Service Tax (GST) implemented, many Malaysians are counting their every cent. In a recent survey by Nielsen Global Survey, the results show that putting money toward savings is a priority for most Malaysians. This report also shows the areas Malaysians are willing to cut their spending on, such as shopping for new clothes, household expenses and groceries.
In the same survey by Nielsen Global Survey, it is found that Malaysia’s consumer confidence level is lower than countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand. Raising the minimum wage can allow the people to feel less anxious every time they have to spend their money. With higher wages, Malaysians will feel more comfortable with spending more money that can increase economic activity.
Cover credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV