- Published on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 08:30
- Written by Hana Maher
Issues surrounding integrity amongst the youths has been a growing concern over the years and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has recently proven that is has become an unfortunate reality.
Local media reports quoted MACC president Datuk Seri Zakaria Jaffar as stating that 50% of those guilty of graft to be young civil servants where between 2014 and 2016, 1,267 out of 2,329 arrested were those aged 40 years old and below.
“This is the next generation who has the country in their hands. If we don’t stop this, I don’t know what will happen to the country.” Datuk Seri Zakaria told Malay Mail.
While corruption amongst the youth has led to people questioning where integrity lies amongst them, the rising cost of living coupled with the low starting income are often blamed as to why such ill-incidences are happening.
Malaysian Digest decided to reach out to various stakeholders to try and understand where the problem actually lies.
Here Is What Young Malaysian Employees Have To Say About Living Within Their Means
We approached young employees just starting their working life in the Klang Valley and asked them to share their views on managing salaries and the temptation to resort to corrupt acts to earn more.
Although he opined that his salary isn’t much, Rifqi optimistically added that he still manages to survive on the salary he earns coupled with the added advantage that he still lives with his parents.
“I’m fortunate as I live with my parents and therefore, I needn’t pay for certain things such as mortgages and utility bills,” he shared.
Rifqi, who currently works as a credit administrative (accountant) under the Accounts Receivable unit of a logistic/courier company, relayed that youths should learn to live within their means.
“It’s quite a financial constraint if you earn between RM2,000 and RM3,000 whilst cruising around the city in a brand new Honda or Toyota, because we often forget that a car has many commitments such as routine services and weekly petrol fuel-ups.
“But rather than purchasing an international car as your first vehicle purchase, why not go for local automotive brands such as Perodua Axia or Proton Saga,” he conveyed.
Regardless, the 24-year-old lad emphasised that youths ought to differentiate between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and learn to allocate money whilst ensuring that they’re able to sustain on a conducive budget.
“For instance, if you’ve allocated a certain amount for your weekly expenses on food and beverages, try your best to be discipline and spend within that allocation,” he said whilst adding that packing food from home is not only cost-friendly but time-saving as well.
Much like Rifqi, full-time Medical Lab Technologist and part-time Financial Consultant Puteri shared that she earns less compared to her peers but acknowledges that it’s more a question of “how we manage our expenditures.
“But nevertheless, living in Kuala Lumpur is challenging especially with the rising cost of living and I promptly looked for other source of income when I realised that I have temptations to shop for new attire, dining at cool places sipping a RM15 coffee and even owning the latest gadgets,” the newlywed professed.
Puteri also shared that youths shouldn’t let financial-constraints diminish their dreams of living a comfortable and successful life, but instead use it as a drive to look for other income streams.
“It’s not wrong to dream to have a life beyond our means, but before we get there, we must be willing to work hard because at the end of the day, hardwork pays off and no one can ever dispute that,” she advised.
“Salary is unique as it’s dependable on a multitude of factors such as employment fields, job scopes and seniority – so it wouldn’t be fair for me to compare my salary with that of an Oil and Gas engineer or a chartered accountant at an audit firm.”
The young lass opined that a salary range between RM1,800 and RM2,500 would be sufficient for a fresh graduate who is only beginning to venture into the employment word, and she speaks from experience.
“I earned RM1,900 initially and managed to pay my room rental, bills and save at least RM500 on a monthly basis whilst taking up various part-time jobs as a means to earn extra income,” she revealed and added that she rented a room in Bangsar.
“Bear in mind that one who just started working shouldn’t be expecting to immediately live in an expensive condominium or driving luxurious imported cars to work as there are other things that are far more important that we need to consider in the beginning.”
With that being said, the youths are often put in the spotlight as people are growing more and more sceptical of their integrity, especially when news of corruption involving younger employees are making headlines more recent than not.
However, both Rifqi and Puteri are happy to share that they have not come across any acts of corruption amongst their colleagues or within the establishment that they’re currently employed thus far.
Rifqi relayed that although corruption has become a norm these days and despite acknowledging that it’s unethical, he opined that the ‘new generation’ cannot solely be blamed as the dishonourable act has been occurring for generations.
“As of late, people would do just about anything to earn that extra cash as whether we like it all not, money is a powerful commodity that drives people and is often linked with power and influence,” he shared.
And although Puteri sympathises with those who are willing to take the easy route to feed their families, she emphasised that corruption is unacceptable and is forbidden by every religion.
“The Fraud Triangle stipulates that there are three main factors that trigger corruption or fraud and we’re able to identify there three factors, then perhaps finally our society can be rid of corruption and fraud once and for all,” she hoped.
“There’s no shortcut to wealth other than hard work and discipline, especially in managing our finances. At the end of the day, hard work is what puts food on the table or getting you that brand new designer bag you’ve been eyeing – not how much you earn as your first salary.”
“Remember That You Reap What You Sow,” HR Consultant Tells Employees Tempted By Corruption
Recently retired HR Consultant Sufiyyah shared that her previous employer in the banking industry offered fresh graduates between RM2,800 to RM3,400 depending on the qualification, job scope, position and many other contributing factors.
“There’s no denying that a higher starting salary will appeal to the majority – whether it’s to sustain their lifestyle, meet their monthly commitments and so forth,” she shared with Malaysian Digest.
“But what fresh graduates fail to realise is that salaries are fixed on a myriad of things such as company’s budget, company’s yearly performances that affects the budget and specifically the job scope.
"But I concur that companies should also adjust their budgeting (for salaries) by taking the rising cost of living into account. 20 years ago, RM1,800 may have been enough but there's no denying that it might not be sustainable today."
The woman with over 20 years of experience explained that despite being in the same company, a corporate communications executive who earns RM2,800 a month cannot expect to be paid as much as a financial risk analyst who earns RM3,000 a month.
“Surely the later has a much wider job scope with much heavier responsibilities as compared to the former,” she relayed.
“It’s not about discrimination or undermining an employee’s worth or career path – but whether we like it or not, it’s not fair to have every fresh graduate to have the same initial income as different roles have different responsibilities and ergo, different risk.”
While Sufiyyah agreed that the rising cost of living influences’ fresh graduates expected minimum salary, she emphasised that it shouldn’t be the basis as to why some have unrealistic and ridiculous earning expectations.
As a matter of fact, Free Malaysia Today reported that JobStreet.com found that 30% of fresh graduates are expecting RM6,500 as their starting salary, whilst 60% are expecting RM3,500.
“Their (fresh graduates) sheer stubbornness to live an extra comfortable life is what drives them to have such unrealistic earning expectations.
“It seems to have slipped their minds that you need to work your way up, rather than expecting to live life in the fast lane upon graduating from college,” she observed, whilst revealing that she has had a candidate who demanded RM5,000 as his expected salary.
Whether it’s due to lack of emphasis on good moral values or refusal to go the extra mile to earn the life they determinedly desire, Sufiyyah stated that their unrealistic expectations is often translated as a sense of entitlement which she concurred to be dangerous.
“It’s petrifying to know that more people are willing to put themselves in a position that questions their integrity, honour and dignity just to be rich quicker, even more so when they’re still considerably young.
“I’ve never encountered such incidences throughout my experiences, but one of the companies I’ve worked for prior has had dealt with a mole whereby the employee ‘sold’ confidential information to outside sources,” she recounted.
Sufiyyah added that corruption doesn’t only occur when massive gains are involved, it can be as minute as selling information or accepting money to help complete your colleague’s task.
“Remember that you reap what you sow and sooner or later, your bad deeds will catch on. If it doesn’t catch on to you, then perhaps it’ll catch on to your kids or their families in the future,” she reminded.
“But above all, uphold the good moral values that your parents have taught you because come what may, how you carry yourself speak volumes about your character.”
A University Student Survey Found That Majority Of Students View Bribery As Acceptable
Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has been vocal when expressing his immense concern over integrity amongst the youth.
“If Malaysia strives to become a fully-developed nation with a society that possesses high morals and ethics, priority must be given to the inculcation of values, morals and ethics, beginning with the young,” he wrote an opinion piece on NST June last year.
Lee emphasised that integrity is a global issue and such issue is a critical concern as integrity if what ensures that a nation will have a good standing amongst the international community.
“Integrity is not just about lip services as it should also be practiced. Integrity also reflects on our actions, deeds and gestures as it will both show and prove that we are people of integrity,” he added.
“Corruption is rampant today in almost all parts of the world as we hear of individuals, governments and countries that succumb to corruption – take the latest scandal that involved the recently impeached South Korean president for instance.”
He elaborated that this in turn may have lead the youths thinking that corruption is a norm as it’s happening at every corners of the world on an almost daily-basis.
“Subsequently, they may think that if you’re caught engaging in corruption, then you’re just unfortunate; but if you’re not caught, then you’ll get away and needn’t live with a guilty conscious,” he opined.
He recounted how a few years back a local university conducted a survey amongst the youth and found that majority of them deemed accepting briberies to be acceptable, thus further highlighting that integrity amongst the youth is indeed a growing concern.
“I’ve yet to see any strong affirmative statements by students that highlights that they are totally against any form of corruption,” and affirming that the rising cost of living shouldn’t be an excuse to succumb to corruption.
“The rising cost of living is indeed a concern and it affects everyone, but there’s an old age saying that says we must not live beyond our means.
“For instance, I know many who are poor – despite living within their means – but the fact of the matter is they choose to try to survive rather than surrendering to offers and favours that jeopardises their integrity.”
And although that he emphasised that the rising cost of living shouldn’t be an excuse as in doing so corruption will never be eradicated, he doesn’t dismiss the fact that the rising cost of living is indeed another concern.
“I believe that this indicates a complete failure of inculcation good moral values amongst the youth and as such, schools ought to have a subject that addresses such issues – from the severity to its guidance to overcome it, especially from the religious aspects.
“But it doesn’t just stop in schools as the lessons should ultimately start from home where parents educate their young on the importance of good moral values, the consequences of corruption and to educate them to never accept any form of bribery; however innocent it may appear,” he advised.
Acknowledging that instilling integrity amongst the youth is easier said than done, Lee reminded that the society as a whole also plays an important role in fighting corruption as society should stand united and say no to any form of corruption.
With that being said, let’s all do our bit in eliminating corruption by first looking inwards – remind ourselves to not be drive by money and riches as Robert Schuller once said, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do."
- Malaysian Digest