38% of households struggling to make ends meet


According to the latest household income survey, the following are the percentages of families in the various monthly household income brackets.

Household monthly
income range
of families

< RM 1000

RM 1001 – 2000

RM 2001 – 3000

RM 3001 – 4000

RM 4001 – 5000

RM 5001 – 10,000

> RM 10,000

Source: Figures presented by Senator Amirsham A Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in response to a query in Parliament by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, MP for Sungai Siput

If you assume that families earning below RM2,000/month are having a really tough time making ends meet, then 38 per cent of all families are in that predicament.

If we take RM3,000 as the threshold for those who are barely coping, then that makes it more well over half the number of Malaysian families who are going through lean times.

This is the real problem in Malaysia today – not the inter-ethnic income disparities.

And the government still doesn’t want to heed the MTUC’s call for a minimum wage of RM900/month and a cost of living adjustment of RM300?

After nearly 40 years of fairly rapid FDI-driven economic growth and over 20 years of neo-liberal policies, to what extent has the quality of life for families really improved – even with more than one person in the household working or the breadwinner taking up an extra job? Instead, we have a vast gulf between the rich and the poor, as a sense of disillusionment sets in. This partly explains why the BN did badly at the polls.

Now the question is what kind of solutions can the PR offer if they come to power to tackle such structural disparities – apart from the urban-rural poverty gap? Will eradication of corruption alone solve the problem – or is the problem a more deep-rooted structural one?

We need to be looking at development policies that truly benefit the people – people-centred development – instead of being so obsessed with the ethnic breakdown of equity ownership and policies that only benefit Big Business.

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Brewer Morris
1 Oct 2008 6.01pm

The rich-poor divide is expanding by the year. It is a problem that seems persistent especially in Asia. As for us, i think a new tax slab would surely help, where in the groups within the low income bracket have a higher income limit.
International Tax Jobs

22 Jul 2008 10.09am

Singapore has much much much more FDI than Malaysia but its rakyat are an unhappy lot too, at times frownier than us, cos they lament that expats and other foreign talent over there has been snatching every opportunity from them…

15 Jul 2008 6.35am

In estates that is in oil palm estates and rubber estates the monthly wages is 250 to 350 how are they going to survive dont mention 1000 rm FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE ESTATES PLEASE CONSIDER I WILL APPRECIATE IF BROTHER ANILNETTO TO DO A SURVEY ON ESTATE WAGES AND PROBLEMS THANK U.

Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
14 Jul 2008 8.47am

Hi Ijjaz

That’s why we need popular democracy and a mass movement to push for change.

It boils down to numbers (the forces of progress) versus money and abuse of state power (the forces of reaction).

12 Jul 2008 10.12pm

I think Amirsham is showing his good capability. I would doubt that we can get this number if any other half cook ministers is involved.

But he did miss out one percentage of people earning millions a month and not having a proper job. 🙂

11 Jul 2008 1.37am

I believe the title should be 57.8% of households struggling to make ends meet. Mind you that you are talking about household income here and not personal income which makes a big difference. The average household size in Malaysia, if I am not mistaken is 4.5. If the data was broken down by race (not implying any racial sentiments, so don’t get work up :)) the Malay household is slightly higher at 5 on average, while the Chinese is 2.5. Not sure about the rest. Look at the data, 57.8% is earning RM3K and below, while if you take the… Read more »

11 Jul 2008 12.00am

While the sufferings of the Rakyats are clearly spelled out in those statistics, the Government is still targetting grandiose Infrastructure projects that would eventually benefit a close circle of CRONY COMPANYS. The ordinary Rakyats, if given just a 10% chunk of the cost of the grandiose infrastructure cost to re-invent themself with either 1. Small Scale agriculture production in terms of Cash-Crops, or 2. Small business with low capital out lay, 3. Small capital for service industry, would have BETTER ideas than the POLLUTED Brains of the Cabinet, in utilising monetary allocations. Whatever Master Plans that the Government have put… Read more »

10 Jul 2008 7.11pm

Aussie PM congratulates Badawi and the rakyat for the way in which the we handled the democratic transformation in this country. So why the reluctance to meet up with Anwar, mate?

10 Jul 2008 1.43pm

…. ” Learn from the progressive countries of Northern Europe that have strong social democratic political parties such as Finland and Sweden”

Hi, Phua Kai Lit

You have stated some very important and practical policies of many successful nations . But, will this racist xenophobic BN regime implement these principles without bias??

10 Jul 2008 11.43am

Yes, Donplaypuks. They’re running this country into the ground and they’re 2/3 done.

10 Jul 2008 10.59am


can we survive with Rm 3,000 a month in Malaysia?. It depends. If you live in Kampung, you already have a humble kampung house, do not use car but motorcycle instead, grow your own padi field, catch own fish, than I thing rm 3,000 is more than enough. But if we live in cities with house rent, car repayment, petrol, utilities, maid to take care children, we are in deficit mode every month.

10 Jul 2008 10.29am


Yes you can, but sadly not in KL.

Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
10 Jul 2008 8.15am

Dear All This is why we need social democracy and well-implemented public policies in Malaysia! 1. Keep public sector health care heavily subsidised. End all the rent-seeking schemes that drive up costs for the Ministry of Health. Rationale: Heavy medical bills can force people into bankruptcy. People from the lower classes are dependent on good physical health to earn a living. 2. Abolish all fees in Malaysian public schools and provide full scholarships to smart students from poor families to attend public university. Raise fees for postgraduate students (unless they are from poor families). 3. Build a better public transport… Read more »

10 Jul 2008 12.18am

The critical level of income for this current situation is below or equal to RM3,000 based on dependents, loan repayments etc. Actually 50% of Malaysians are now living under stress to make their ends meet.

9 Jul 2008 11.22pm

I do not think giving cost of living adjustment is a wise move. Cost of doing business will increase. This will only give excuse for traders to further raise the prices of goods and services. That will result in spiralling inflation. We have seen this happening every time the salaries of government servants are raised. A better solution is to adjust the personal income tax structure in this coming Budget. Allow a higher tax relief income from the present RM8000 to maybe RM12000. Also, revise down the personal income tax by 2 to 3% for the lower income brackets. This… Read more »

9 Jul 2008 11.17pm

Dear Anil

They are waiting for 2/3 of the population to be affected b4 taking action, as they are fixated on this 2/3 thing! lol

I’m not a great believer in conspiracy theories, but lately I’m beginning to think seriously about these rumours making the rounds that our Rulers for 50 years have seen the writing on the wall and have embarked on scorched-earth policies so that Pakatan will inherit a desert to work on!

Any subscribers to this hypothesis?

9 Jul 2008 10.44pm

Can you survive with RM3000 permonth in Malaysia?


The Yarning
The Yarning
9 Jul 2008 10.20pm

I’d be interested in the PR’s proposal too. In their fierce criticism, where lies their plans and priority? I’d say let them have publicly telecast debates on real issues like these. Although knowing certain politicians, it’s more likely to be turned into one freak circus show.

9 Jul 2008 10.18pm

A more precise list of per capita income is this


Our per capita income is so low causing people to struggle to make ends meet and yet, we can send Angkasawan to space.

And clowns tell us petrol in Singapore cost more than in Malaysia!
But the price of petrol is nothing to a Singaporean.

This letter by a reader of Malaysiakini summarises how sad the earnings of Malaysians are and attribute the low income earning capacity to Corruption


9 Jul 2008 8.51pm

This is how sad we are……….