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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Four-figure incomes but life not better for some Malaysians

Ojaran Fakharurrazi Omar, a dispatch rider for a bio-chemical company in Penang, says the rising cost of living has affected him to the point of having nothing to save for emergencies or even a rainy day. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, September 1, 2014.Ojaran Fakharurrazi Omar, a dispatch rider for a bio-chemical company in Penang, says the rising cost of living has affected him to the point of having nothing to save for emergencies or even a rainy day. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, September 1, 2014.
The economy may be doing beyond expectations. But for Malaysians earning below RM 2,500 a month, they have very little expectation that their lives will get better.
These are people like Ojaran Fakharurrazi Omar, 37, a dispatch rider for a bio-chemical company in George Town, Penang. He and his wife have to get by with RM 2,000 a month.
According to the National Economic Advisory Council, they make up the “middle 40%” of Malaysian income earners. That is, the income earners who make between RM2,957 to RM1,222 according to a 1990 to 2008 survey.
“I try to earn a little extra by working overtime when it is offered by the company. The boss pays cash for overtime work.
“But it does not come often. There are other workers, who need the overtime money too,” said Ojaran when met at this home in Taman Tun Sardon.
“I do some odd jobs for friends like helping them move things... sometimes I help out at some hawker stalls in the neighbourhood.
“I get RM50 or whatever amount they can pay me. The money depends on the type of work too. Sometimes there is work, sometimes there is none.”
His biggest monthly expense is the RM410 monthly instalment for the low cost flat that his wife and two kids live in.
The second biggest is petrol for his car and motorcycle which come up to about RM200 a month. The rest is spent on food, utility bills and to pay for his eldest son’s education fees.
Needless to say, the family is extremely selective with what they buy.
“Food like meat, rice and necessities like cooking oil are getting expensive. My income is low so my family feels it.
“We are careful with what we buy, even with food. We hardly ever eat out because it is more expensive. You have to drive out, and that also means burning fuel and spending extra. We always eat at home.”
Ojaran is always on the lookout for whatever aid the family can get.
“I apply for zakat once a year during the Hari Raya season. That helps a lot.
“The kids also get coupons to buy things from organisations doing charity. Since money is really tight, we have to accept handouts or even hand-me-downs for the children.”
By the end of the month, there is almost nothing left to save for emergencies.
“I don't really make enough to set aside money for savings. I also give my parents RM100 a month.
“They need help too because they take care of their seven other grandkids who live with them in Balik Pulau. My sister who is a widow stays with them too but money is also tight for them.”
- TMI

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