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M'sian Man Shows How Local Professionals Are Underpaid Compared To Fresh Grads In Japan

"So the question is, are Malaysians underpaid, or the Japanese overpaid?"

Cover image via Ahmad Sabri/Facebook

A Malaysian returning to the country after spending a decade overseas was surprised to see the contrast in monthly wages between both countries

Having lived in Japan for 11 years, 30-year-old Ahmad Sabri decided to bring his family back to Malaysia after he found himself missing home and wanting to give back to the country.

While searching for jobs, Ahmad realised there was a difference in salaries being offered in Malaysia compared to what he was used to in Japan.

He took to Facebook on Sunday, 16 August, to share a salary comparison based on two job postings he found online from both countries.

As a mechanical engineering graduate from Japan, Ahmad said he had to do a double-take after seeing the high requirements and extensive job scope of an engineering role in Malaysia

In addition to that, he wrote he was shocked to see that the vacancy was only being offered RM2,500 a month.

"The place of work is in Puchong, where the cost of living is rather high even though it is on the outskirts of the city," he pondered.

"In addition to a requirement that every employee must have their own car, which would already take up RM300 a month, other transportation costs such as toll, petrol, and parking have to be self-borne," he said.

"You would only have the net salary of about RM1,500 after deducting the cost of your car, transportation, taxes, insurance, and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). And we haven't considered rent and food. If you take away rent, you're probably left with RM1,000."

Image for illustration purposes.

Image via Unsplash

Then, he compared the professional role with a common, entry-level job in Japan which Malaysians fluent in English and Japanese could be hired for

An example he found was a translator role in a game software manufacturing company.

"The salary offered is about RM20,000 a month and transportation costs will be borne by the company. The net salary would be from RM18,000 to RM19,000 monthly after deducting taxes, insurance, and EPF," he said.

"After doing some calculations, rent would be about RM2,000 to RM3,000. So, the net salary now would be about RM15,000 to RM17,000 a month. The job scope is small but the salary is way much higher."

"So the question is, are Malaysians underpaid, or the Japanese overpaid?" he wondered.

Ahmad personally thinks that the professionals in Malaysia are currently underpaid for the work responsibilities that they take on

"Engineers only sound good by name but not in terms of money. Add on their wide job scope and it doesn't make sense. The salary they are being paid is too low but the expectations are high," he said.

He added that too many of his friends who studied in Japan and returned to Malaysia have left engineering and changed careers.

"These Japanese engineering graduates were earning at most RM3,500. Whereas if they go into customer service [in Japan], they could be earning up to RM8,000 a month by just being fluent in Japanese."

"It's an easy job with high pay, who wouldn't want it?" he asked.

His post has since gone viral and been shared almost 3,000 times

Facebook users were tagging and inviting their friends to go to Japan to work.

"Let's move to Japan," said a netizen to his friend.

Another user agreed with Ahmad, "I was an engineering fresh graduate in 2006 and I only earned RM1,900 a month. I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark."

"In addition to overtime (OT), I've never earned more than RM3,000. Be grateful."

Meanwhile, this user said, "Welcome to the real world. You can't have everything. There are pros and cons to consider. You have to choose wisely."

Here is Ahmad's original post for you to consider:

Earlier this year, another engineer demonstrated how the monthly wages in Malaysia have not kept up with the inflated cost of living:

In July, reports estimated that households earning RM2,500 a month may be categorised as 'urban poor':

Meanwhile, in February, a survey conducted in Asia showed that Malaysians were the most unsatisfied with their salaries:

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