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Friday, 10 July 2015

She is Zahra. She has a mismatch of expectations and worries too much

Two days ago, the Malaysian Insider reported: "A video clip of a young Malaysian speaking of the financial struggles she and her generation face to an audience who included Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is making its rounds on social media.

In the video by the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM), the 23-year-old law graduate, who only identified herself as Zahra, told the deputy prime minister how she had grown increasingly disappointed and angry that the life she is living was not what she had envisioned as a student."

In the much-shared video (below), she said she had envisioned big pay and a comfortable life as soon as she graduated but after working for just two years, she finds that she, as a bumiputra Malay is living like a "Pendatang di Tanah Air sendiri".

An immigrant in her own homeland.

Besides sounding suspiciously like a PKR ceramah, she listed a bunch of complaints of her self-admitted "tortured" life which includes

  • She is a Bachelor of Law graduate from a local University that is not recognized by Govt and living in high-cost Kuala Lumpur
  • She does not own a car but has to pay her dad RM500 per month to use his car
  • During the end of the month, she could no longer afford to drive and "terpaksa" (forced) to use the LRT and she is ashamed of this as it is supposed to be her taking care of her parents and not the other way round
  • She has to pay RM500 per month to crowd (berhempit) in with 7 other persons in her rented place.
  • She cannot afford to buy her own home in the Melawati or Ampang areas until she has RM9,000 per month income at least
  • She cannot afford the RM15,000 fees to go on a course to qualify her as a full lawyer
  • She is afraid that if her parents have health problems, she will not be able to bear the financial burden
  • She says she may need to marry a rich husband to get out of her "financial trap"
  • She says the future is bleak and dark for "anak-anak Melayu" who is the future of Malaysia
  • She is disappointed and angry.
She says that despite all these, "Nama saya Zahra, Saya Sayangkan Malaysia.:"

Wow, such a sad life she has.

Two years after graduation and she is living like it is hell in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. And you have a job too - unlike many of your peers in Europe and the USA.

But not so fast, you should realize you're not really living in hell.  I don't know of how many countries in the world that a graduate with a place to stay and a car to drive can be considered a beggar.

However, I do believe Zahra has bad financial planning, got her priorities wrong and quite unrealistic expectations.

No govt on earth promises you that you will own a car and a house at the age of 23 years old and just two years into your working adult life.

In fact, the average age where people buy their first home is nowhere near as young as 23 years old.
In China, the average Chinese city dweller takes on their first mortgage at the age of 27, far earlier than their counterparts overseas, according to a 2010 study by Everbright Bank. 
The average first-time home buyer in Canada is 29 years old, according to a study by the Bank of Montreal published in April, while in Britain, the average age is 35, according to a survey by Post Office Mortgages published in September last year.
Even in supposedly high wages and more equal USA, the average age of the first-time homebuyer is from 31, rising to between 32 and 34 within the next few years.
Therefore, her lamenting she cannot afford to buy a house now at the age of 23 is very unrealistic.

As you can see from the world-wide averages, even if you are a Bumiputra or Anak Melayu muda, it does not automatically grant you an entitlement that you will own a car and house at your age and at your stage of your working career.

No government on earth can promise and deliver you that.

Despite that fact that I am not bumiputra, I too did not own a car and house in my name at 23 years old and only did many years later.

However, she has every right to worry. and she does indeed worry a lot .She is afraid she may never get a salary of RM9,000 per month salary.

Well Zahra, relax. You are pleasant-looking, a law graduate and speak well. With a few years of experience in the legal profession, with the right qualification and hard work, I am confident you will make a lot more than RM9,000 per month.

No need to worry. Just be patient and please be optimistic in life. Cheer up!

Instead of criticizing you for your false sense of entitlement, I'd like to offer an alternative how you can improve your life.


Based on available surveys, it appears that the average Salary for Junior Executives in the legal services line appears to be RM3,396.

As part of introducing GST, the govt also moved up the band where income tax is collected to above RM4,000 per month - hence government no longer charges you income tax.  ZERO!  Already you are in a better position than many other graduates around the world.

You could be getting less than the average for your line and probably could be earning in the RM2500 to RM3,000 per month range - but my advice has nothing to do with your current salary.

Firstly, you car.

I noticed that you said towards the end of the month, you would be so poor that you are "forced" to use LRT and embarrassed about this situation.

This means the existing LRT lines already serve your purpose but for some reason, you still prefer to drive and waste time, parking costs, petrol costs and being caught in numerous traffic jams.

Why would you say "terpaksa" to use LRT? What is so bad about LRT that you have to be forced to use it?

There's nothing to be ashamed of in taking the LRT or public transport. Bankers, tycoons, professionals take them too. Maybe you' might even get lucky and meet your future rich husband and soul-mate there ?

On top of your RM500 per month "payment" for your car, you would easily spend another RM100 for parking costs, RM50 for car maintenance and RM200 per month for petrol - a total of RM850 per month.

1) First thing to do is to give back your car to your parents and ask them to sell it.

One worry solved already. And your parents now have some excess cash that they can then use in case of your parents' health emergencies. 

Get the My Rapid Integrated RM150 per month season pass (if she just wants to use LRT only, it would be RM100 per month) which allows her unlimited travel on all RAPID buses, monorail and trains within Klang Valley anytime she wants to.

SAVINGS GAINED: RM850 - RM150 =  RM700 per month more money in your purse.

In just 5 months, If you really really really wanted a car, you would have enough money to pay the down-payment for a brand new Perodua Axia G Automatic and pay the RM345 monthly installment (instead of having to RM500 previously).

There, another worry solved. You could own your own car  - in just 5 months and STILL be paying less money per month.

But don't do this as a car is a depreciating asset and costly. At this moment in your life, you have other priorities.

It's already so jammed in Kuala Lumpur so I hope you don't buy a car - unless absolutely necessary.

There is a reason why the govt is spending more than a hundred billion ringgit to build LRT1 and LRT2 extensions, LRT3, MRT1, MRT2 and MRT3, the BTS and buying so many new buses and train sets - to encourage people to use public transport instead of driving.

2) the RM15,000 professional course to qualify you to be a lawyer.

To me, this isn't even a problem at all. There are so many places you can ask for a loan. You could go to MARA or you could go to the Banks (see this loan from MayBank) or you could even go to MCA's Kojadi - which offers study loans regardless of race.

RM15,000 is not that much for a study loan and I simply do not envision you not being able to get that loan - especially since you are already a graduate and working.

Did you try? Did you try hard enough to get the form and apply?

In the very unlikely scenario that you face problems getting this loan, I am sure MTEN and DPM Muhyiddin can help you - especially with your new found fame.

These loans don't require you to start paying back immediately and repayment typically start months or one year after you have completed them - therefore, not much impact on your current cashflow.

There, another problem solved. Just make sure you pick a QUALIFIED course this time and once completed, you can qualify to be admitted to the BAR (lawyer BAR not pubs) and become a practicing lawyer - which will mean a big jump in salary easily.

And hence two more worries solved - your expected RM9,000 per month salary and your RM15,000 course problem.

3) Your current RM500 room rental and having to crush with seven other tenants.

This is one of the easiest to solve - you just have to go online to find better and cheaper alternatives.

To save you time, I have helped you find alternatives.

How about staying in a three bedroom condo with Covered Parking, Playground, Swimming Pool, Tennis Court, 24hr Security instead?

Yup. This is available at just RM850 per month rental partly furnished.

Although small at 895 sq. ft, it does seem a nice place with three bedrooms which you can take up and share equally with two other persons. Assuming utilities of RM200 per month, the entire cost comes up to RM1,050 per month for three persons - or RM350 per person per month.

And since you have the MyRapid integrated season pass, you could easily take a bus from there too before connecting to the LRT and onward to your office.

If you don't like this place, you can always search around.

Since you are connected via LRT and bus via your MyRapid card, there are so many places that will fit your needs and budget with affordable rentals too - after all, this is going to be temporary accommodation until you buy your very own place or as you said, marry a rich husband.

Just don't be too picky for the moment. Compromise a bit.

Another immediate problem solved and you get your own bedroom and staying in a nicer place with condo facilities and save money too.

SAVINGS GAINED: RM500 - RM350 =  RM150 per month more money in your purse.

4) Finally buying your very own house.

From the savings in 103, you will get:

Total Savings gained car and rental: RM700 + RM150 = RM850 per month

RM850 per month savings X 12 = RM10,200 per year savings.

Or RM30,600 after three years.

And assuming now you have worked 5 years and at average salary of RM3,000 per month, you and your company would be contributing RM720 per month to your EPF and hence would have RM12,960 in your EPF account 2.

By the time three years have passed, you will have these:
- at least RM30,600 savings
- EPF account 2 of RM12,960
- a salary of at least RM5,000 per month (low for a qualified lawyer).
- whatever you saved from your yearly bonus (but we are not counting this.

Hence by that time, you have enough to pay down payment and a high enough income to buy a condominium of at least RM300k - RM 400k in price and being able to afford RM1200 to RM1,500 per month installments.

There are many reasonable apartments and condominiums still on the market today. All you have to do is to do a little hunting online.

For example, all these decent 3 bedroom ones between 995 to 1115 sq feet in the Melawati area that you wanted are still available :

Even if the cheapest one at RM220k doubles in price three years from now, which is highly unlikely, you can still afford it with your savings and salary then.

You can then be a landlord and rent out your extra two bedrooms and use that money to pay for your new car's monthly installments.

By this time, you would be 26 years old.

Not bad: Owning a house and a car in the Kuala Lumpur city at the ripe old age of 26 years old - way ahead of the average first-time house owner around the world.

All problems solved. All your worries dissipated.

Or, you could simply marry a rich husband, as you said.

Here's a video advertisement on how to do this:

Maybe we should stop complaining and stop having a false sense of entitlement. That is the job of the dead or pengsan Pakatan Rakyat and not your job.

Plan and take control of your life. Have an optimistic outlook and execute your plan.

Millions of people have survived and prospered in the Klang Valley and so can you, Miss Zahra.

Footnote: Since this article was posted, it has been found that Zahra is in fact an employee of MTEM itself. It is highly unethical for MTEM not to disclose this fact as it makes the event scripted.

Perhaps it was MTEM themselves who needs to pay their own employee better?

QED = Quite Easily Done.


  1. LSS, just want to point out an error. For someone earning RM4,000/ month (RM48,000 per annum income), he/she will already be in the 10% tax bracket (RM35,001 - RM50,000 income bracket)

    1. As part of the GST offset package, the income tax structure and rates have been reduced this year . Many salaried people are already enjoying the reduced monthly tax deductions since April.

      You can calculate yourself here:

    2. I did try to use the PCB calculator and it shows that a person earning RM4,000/ month will need to pay around RM100++ for PCB. Even the PCB schedule shows this.

      If a person is earning RM4,000 per ANNUM, yes, there'll be no tax.

    3. With the various personal deductions available, any tax paid will be refunded. The net effect is zero tax paid for those below RM4,000 per month salary. Even RM100 out of RM4,000 is just 2.5% income tax - where in the world can u find this?

  2. Who teach u to use average income?

    RM3,396?? As bad as using average family income n saying every single family is doing fine.

    Unrealistic judgement. Only good for meeting rooms of numbed insensitive donkeys. Presented with all statistics n diagrams make it much more convincing.

    RM3,396 is where u failed big time. Study Pareto Diagram n u will know that assumptions only good in making worthless hard cover thesis.

    1. Read my article again (and my reply to a comment below). It has nothing to do with her current salary but her self-admitted current monthly spending on car and house rental.

    2. quoting pareto diagram? really?

    3. he used the average salary for "Junior Executives in the legal services", which itself is relatively small group (as compared to average family income), so i'd say that his assumption is quite valid

    4. Encik Ahmad Khairani, you lost it when you use the word "donkeys" to describe humans tho they are insensitive. Your comment and credibility is invalid!

  3. Ask her how much her h/p cost, also how much her monthly bill is last but not least ask this very intelgent lady why take a degree

    ""Bachelor of Law graduate from a local University that is not recognized by Govt"'
    You dug your own grave ,yet you know your degree is not recognized

    Best of both worlds is what she wants, bus tak nak naik but complain.

    For gen y everything must be to their standards nothing else

  4. I think u r missing a point here.
    U r getting too personal on Zahra issues, way too personal to pay attention to the real issue highlighted by this persona.
    Its true life is getting ridiculously hard for the youngsters, esp in kl.
    I was one of them. I won't be complaining like Zahra though because I'm proud of it. And no, no matter how much the report says about the average income for certain position - normally they r not accurate nor reliable.
    In 2007 I was paid only RM1,200 as a fresh grad to start of living my life, and bit, it was no fun. (The report said average - RM2,000)
    In 2015, my sister finished her degree and got a job in kl as an executive with salary of RM1,800 (report said average - RM2,500)
    To giving out tips on how to spend money people DONT have is funny, and ridiculous.
    How easy to say "take up a RM15k loan for your study," than the burden of paying it back, not knowing that even after the prof cert or master degree can guarantee anyone a better salary.
    Have some decency to admit that life is hard as Malaysians, regardless any race.
    Put aside politics and current economy conditions - I assume you think the ruling govt did fantastic.
    Be sensitive with the REAL issues here - life is hard. And sometimes, people don't want to hear ur brilliant prob solving ideas, they just want u to listen and say, "I'm sorry to hear that,"

    There are a lot of people facing similar situation like Zahra or my sister. And a lot more facing the worse.
    So be humble.
    Don't ever think their let out as a ticket for us to judge them as a bad finance planner.

    1. My suggestions to her is nothing to do with the current salary that she has but on her current spending patterns on her car and house.

      This comment of your is wrong "giving out tips on how to spend money people DONT have is funny," as the RM500 each she spent on car and rental is her own admission.

    2. agree with the commentor. admit. dont be egoistic.

    3. Average is "average". If the average is RM2000, and you are getting RM1200, that just means that someone is getting RM2800.

      Similarly, if the average is RM2500, and your sister is getting RM1800, it means that someone is getting RM3200..

    4. Wow wow wow ... I appreciate the LSS comment/feedback and also Ms Zahra for voicing out her problem as an average Malaysian.

      While I said I appreciate LSS feedback, I believe that just lika Zahra, she is just voicing out that there are alternatives in life, we have within our hand the choices that we can either make ourselves happier, or always feel that there is never enough.

      On the other hand, Ms Zahra may try to consider the pointers given by LSS, I mean I didn't agree with LSS feedback which sounded like an "attack" (Mind you, that everyone's opinion may be different). But, it was a sound advise to take a step back and relook into your account balances.

      Let me share with you my side of the story too,

      I completed my Diploma in Mass Communications;

      In the year 2009, started my Job in a bank with a basic of RM 1900.
      In 2010 I was offered another job at Rm 2,400.
      In 2011 I was offered a job for 3,800.
      In 2012 I was offered a job fr RM 4,200.
      and the rest is confidential :)

      So, the bottomline is, it doesn't matter what you earn now, because unlike some people, I do not have a degree, but I work harder than those who do, and I am certainly not a person who is easily satisfied, I took up an Online Learning Programme with OUM and I am only 2 more years from completing my Degree.

  5. Her views towards life problem is the embodiment of Gen-Y's mindset. They're just not satisfied with their lives. Wants to move up quickly. Jumps job all the time. Prefers short cuts to hard work. Wants air-conditioned desk job to field work.

    Come to think of it, it's just scary. The Opposition know how to capitalise on this and blame it on government.

  6. What you said is really true. I think she has been a bit impatient. At 23 years old, she already worked for 2 years. People at my age only graduate at the age of 24. I ride motobike to save cost, share a 3 bedrooms house with 6 person, found myself in deadlock even at the age of 32. Then suddenly the big break came in and I moved up in my life.

    What is important is to build your knowledge and experience and make plan for your career progression. Some professions need to have certain qualifications and certifications before you can earn big. Like if you are are lecturer, then don't expect to earn 9000 if you want to just settle with Master qualification. You need to obtain your PHD. Law and accounting profession are well known for low entry pay because they know that every practitioner needs to have "experience". It is sort of scarify before they achieve their big break. So everyone in the profession has to work their ass out before they can achieve their big break. Same goes for doctor. If you are satisfied to be a GP, then don't expect to earn big.

  7. Hidup tak di berkati. Sedih.

  8. Zahra ni banyak sangat tonton drama melayu kut....

  9. Ijazah undang-undang dia tidak diiktiraf oleh Bar Council (BC).
    Hanya bila diiktiraf oleh BC barulah pemegang ijazah undang-undang itu boleh berkhidmat sebagai peguam dimahkamah.
    Kan dia kata perlu RM15K untuk ambil kursus professional.

    1. Ijazah UA (IPTA) tak diiktiraf? Pelik!! Melainkan UA tidak berusaha mendapatkan pengiktirafan tsb.. MQA, Bar Council dsbnya.. UA baru ke atau sebenarnya US (IPTS) dan belum diberikan pengiktirafan. Apakah semua disini maklum yang pengiktirafan perlu didapatkan dan ianya tidak diberikan secara automatik.?
      Dan jika UA, Chambering pastinya free (ditanggung oleh UA) jadi kat mana lojiknya claim Zahra.. pasal RM 15K ..

      Kepada anak anak muda.. Bukan senang nak senang.. yang dah melepasi lingkungan umur anak muda telah pernah melalui semua yang disebut oleh zahra juga yang disebut oleh beberapa komentator di sini..
      Life is hard.. itu yang pasti., seperti yang disebut oleh admin dan a few others, bersabarlah dan rancanglah semula pengurusan hidup dan kewangan anda.

  10. Good job solving Zahra's can you please advice some 2 million young adults facing similar situation? How about those who have families esp small kids and babies? And those with sick parents...cost of living keeps on increasing but salary increase is not at all parallel. Zahra is only giving her life as an example. Her expectations might be a little too much but all of her points were true.

  11. In my opinion, she is not speaking for her self, she represents for the whole Malaysians. Which get paid lower than her salary. In the video, she did mentioned that, she will not give up, she will try to work hard. She is not just complaining.

  12. Lss wealthy people rarely takes LRT. They drive or someone drive them to work. Malaysian LRTs are fast becoming like Singapore full of those who cant have COE cars and foreign migrant workers.

  13. She is complaining too much. Could the government do better? Yes it should and it must. The gov should stop corruption,cronyism,race&religious based politics and level the playing field for all Malaysians. What she has to go through is something every Malaysian goes through even more so the non bumiputras. Non bumiputra parents spend a fortune to educate their kids, if they don't have the cash they find a way or the kid takes a loan and he ends up paying it off. Does he complain and lament? ofcourse he does but he doen't have the feeling of self entitlement. This Zahra has been hammered by propaganda from the day she was born, been told that lies and falsehoods that now she believes to be true. The only way forward is to face reality. Buck up, life is not a bed of roses, stop asking the gov to help you or bail you out. Find a way and a solution, sitting there and waiting for a handout won't change anything.

  14. If she dont mind, lot if people doing a part time business as extra income. Why not??? Unless she is shame doing part time MLM/Insurance agent, Unit Trust, Online Biz bla bla bla...lot of opportunity in Malaysia. Dont depend on a single income. If she willing like others...why merungut?

  15. when i started working at 21, i was working 2 jobs. A day job during the day and another freelance job at night to make extra income, id even work at the mall as a promoter on weekends. The past 5 years allowed me to build my portfolio and experience and now at 26 i recently resigned from my job and started 2 companies. One of it easily earns me rm9000 per month and the other, i managed to get an investor in. A lot of the Gen y complain so much these days when the fact is they want it easy. Nothing is given in life and if you want more, you need to hustle.

  16. She speaks of reality and here we are trying to find fault. Malaysia now is not as heavenly as before. It has become too crowded. In some countries average car would cost few months of your salary. Here in Malaysia you have to go on mortgage for 9 years.And dream of buying a house in Penang in KL at young age? Almost impossible. By the time you are 35 or 40, you could be lucky to own one with a mortgage of 20 years. Despite many taxes that we paid, we seem not getting benefits out of it. Of course our education is sponsored but e are far behind countries like Japan, Korea, Singapore which beforetime almost equal to us. i blame on political. No one straight thinking leader tries to mend the situation. Our leaders are busy to fill up their own coffers.

  17. The article is nicely written with almost complete calculation. As is for me, I did manage to buy my own house after work various of works relentlessly day and night. Sometimes no sleep to finish up a project to get the pay. This is my house Currently with all 3 rooms occupied at top floor. I was grateful as I am never giving up to live frugally and being street smart, after going through plenty. Zahra deserve to learn more to be street smart instead of book smart. Like in this article here . For those who are interested to know how, can either contact me and my Boss.

  18. Well... yeah... both views can apply... We first need to define prosper.

  19. Well, basically it's proper financial management and living within your means are the only way. If you can't broaden your income, then reduce expenditure and wastage. If you can't earn more, then you need to find ways to reduce some redundant expenditures. Analyze your finance situation and track it. Try to use more public transportation to work if possible, and that will alone cut down the amount you've spent for toll + petrol + parking for nothing and time wastage. At the same time,build up your own portfolios and skill sets to find way to startup your own biz or increase your marketability. Every generation has their own problem at the same age, so find ways to overcome it. Nothing in life is easy.

  20. Great article! So sensible and practical.

  21. Nicely written.. to zahra and other people alike.. Life is cruel and hard. I started my first job with only RM450 a month, with a Diploma from IPTA... aduhai... what else can I say.. brace and keep striving. after all bukan senang nak senang..