Uni Student Protests That Interns Should Be Paid RM1,500 Per Month But Not Everyone Agrees
A 24-year-old university student, Rashifa Aljunied, recently went viral after she demanded that interns be paid the minimum wage
In a Twitter thread posted on Wednesday, 14 June, Rashifa said that she would be starting an internship soon, and attached a photo of herself with a placard that read, "Interns are not free labourers".
She also stated that she would be walking around her university campus while wearing the placard to show solidarity for unpaid interns.
"The government increased the minimum wage to RM1,500, but this policy didn't include interns. Interns are unprotected by the employment act in Malaysia, hence the risk of exploitation by companies," she wrote in the thread.
Rashifa said that it is nearly impossible for her to live as an intern in Kuala Lumpur if she is not paid the minimum wage
The 24-year-old cited housing rent, transportation, and food as examples of basic necessities that interns must still pay for while doing their internship.
"I believe that interns should be paid with dignity, and treated as employees to the companies or services that they do. No more exploitation.
"Lack of dignified wages should be fought for. By the mahasiswa (university students), for the mahasiswa," she wrote.
She also argued that students should not be required to pay university fees while doing internships because they do not use any of the university facilities.
"We're not going to classes or anything, so why should we pay the same amount of fees as usual semesters?" she asked.
At the time of writing, her thread has garnered over 10,500 retweets and 7.9 million views, with some netizens supporting her activism
One user commented that interns should be paid in wages rather than allowances.
"Many students from low economic backgrounds do part-time jobs during their studies to support themselves. But the moment they are forced to go for an internship, they can't continue the job," they wrote.
Another commented that similar to companies, most universities also do not care for students' well-being during their internship period.
"They don't care what you're doing during an internship, whether you have a place to live, whether you actually learn something, or if you get supervision," they wrote.
Another praised Rashifa for her courage in protesting.
"The Gen Zs are outspoken, and they’re not going to take any s--t thrown to them without fighting back. I love this about them. This is how we'll improve as a society, when we say 'Time's up, that's enough, it's about time,'" they wrote.
"And yes, companies must, and should pay their interns," they added.
Others, however, were opposed to interns being paid the minimum wage
One user commented that interns cannot be compared to full-time employees because they do not have the same responsibilities.
"You do not carry equal responsibility or bring equal value as an employee. You haven't even graduated," they wrote.
"I'm all against bullying interns with unnecessary workloads, but this is not the battle you should choose. Employers aren't required to have interns, but you guys need them to complete your studies," wrote another.
"Shift your energy to making internship not mandatory and reducing academic fees," they added.
Meanwhile, earlier today, 19 June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim insisted that companies give interns an allowance to cover their travel and food expenses
However, Anwar stated that this would be left up to companies and that the government would not establish a policy on it because internships are not mandatory, reported Malay Mail.
"The government will not determine a clear policy because this is an internship programme that cannot be forced. And the more companies take interns, the better for our youth," he said at the launch ceremony of the Capital Market Graduate Programme (CMGP) "InvestED".
In September, an employer said that "the future is f-cked" after an internship candidate requested an online interview: