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Crutches for the young?

  • Undeniably all government policies have political considerations behind

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Malaysian young people are the blessed lot. Perhaps very soon they will not only get the salaries form their employers, but also subsidies from the government.

The government will set aside RM6 billion to help pay their salaries so long as they are willing to work, even not government jobs.

This allocation will come from the national coffers, for sure, while the revenue is drawn directly from taxpayers' pockets.

And since the money will come from taxpayers, the government needs to have some good excuses to mobilize the fund.

The government has not specified what reasons for its generosity. So I can only make some guesses:

1. The salaries paid to young Malaysians are indeed too low that the government needs to top up.

2. The government subsidizes part of the remuneration cost in hope of encouraging companies to hire young people.

3. Young people hate to work, so the government needs to provide some incentives.

4. Young people are not happy with the PH government and PH needs to make them happy so that their votes could be secured in the next GE.

5. All of the above.

Some of these assumptions are economic in nature, others political. Whatever the reasons, they have got to meet the needs of the society and be economically viable. Of course, the principle of equality must never be compromised.

First and foremost, we have to admit that the salaries paid to many young Malaysians, including fresh graduates, have been too low.

The national economy has been growing sluggishly in the absence of significant high growth sector. Corporate earnings are generally low, so are salaries paid to the workers.

Moreover, Malaysian companies are highly dependent on foreign workforce, thus suppressing the income levels of Malaysian wage earners.

The corporate sector is of the view that salaries paid to fresh graduates are low because they are not competent enough to meet their corporate demands nor bring them more lucrative profits.

Another reason is that companies are either unwilling or cannot afford to hire more fresh graduates, hence government intervention is needed to prevent the issue of youth unemployment from worsening.

Such a situation is common in some European and Latin American countries. Similar government subsidies are also provided in countries like Spain.

That said, youth unemployment in Spain is structural in nature. Youth unemployment hovers above 20% and could even reach 30%, severely eroding the country's economy. The government has no choice but to step in, trying to resolve the crisis through public funds.

Is youth unemployment in Malaysia that bad? How high is the unemployment rate? Are our youths unmotivated to look for jobs or they really cannot find one?

Before the government has identified the root cause of the problem, it is best to avoid adopting more drastic measures introduced in other countries.

Bear in mind that our treasury is short of cash now and RM6 billion is by no means a small figure. Spending the limited resources in unproductive areas could be a huge waste.

In addition to economic viability, we must also take into consideration whether the money has been utilized fairly. If it is used on a group of lazy and uncompetitive young people, then it will not be fair to others who work very hard for over ten hours a day and only get the same money.

Such subsidies will only make our young people more dependent on government handouts and kill their fighting spirit.

Undeniably all government policies have political considerations behind. The PH government is losing the support of young Malaysians, in particular young Malays. Will the latest policy help reverse the political preference of young Malays in this country?

If this is the government's intention, then I'm afraid “New Malaysia” is no more than an empty talk, as race politics and crutch culture have seeped into the core of governance.

 

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