Hundreds of thousands of M'sians work in S'pore due to salary, stronger currency, opportunities & lifestyle

There are push and pull factors.

Belmont Lay | July 04, 2022, 04:03 AM

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Hundreds of thousands of Malaysians are in Singapore to work, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said, according to The Sun Daily.

However, the 900,000 figure provided by MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman is a lot higher than previously reported figure of about 400,000, with a significant number commuting daily between the two countries.

The revelation that many Malaysians are resuming the crossing of borders to work comes amidst the economic recovery of the country following a bruising pandemic that has ravaged economies worldwide, and the concern that Malaysia is losing its talent.

Strong pull factors

One of the strong pull factors was money, but the allure of opportunities and lifestyle choices that Singapore offered Malaysians can cause them to eventually up sticks and leave, sometimes for the long term.

Syed Hussain said: “The opportunity to work in advanced industries in Singapore is really good for Malaysians as they get regional and international postings too."

“They earn better incomes in Singapore, which ensure they have enough savings when they retire. The higher cost of products and services, especially in Johor Baru, made them decide to work in Singapore to increase their income.”

Long-term goals met in Singapore

According to the article, various factors combine to influence Malaysians to go to Singapore, beyond just earning more.

Domestic factors in Malaysia are pushing its citizens out as well.

Two reasons cited were the need to escape the middle-income trap amid rising inflation and the declining value of the ringgit.

Earn more in Singapore after paying for room rental

Owing to the high exchange rate and better salary packages, leaving Malaysia to live and work in a foreign country, such as Singapore, still made financial sense, it was also reported.

This was especially so when the salary packages offered to Malaysians in Malaysia do not match their qualifications and experience.

One example cited was the salary of a fresh engineering graduate.

According to the article, such a graduate would have received RM2,000 in Malaysia some 20 years ago.

Currently, the starting pay for someone with this qualification is RM2,800 (S$888).

This is compared to the salary offered for fresh graduates in Singapore that range from S$2,600 (RM8,200) to to S$3,100 (RM9,777) -- almost five figures in ringgit.

Given the disparity, a Malaysian working in Singapore is drawn by the ability to earn more than twice the amount back home, after factoring in rental for a room here, which costs S$500 to S$600 a month, according to the report.

The article implied that a brain drain in Malaysia can occur, if the granting of permanent residency by Singapore and other countries for some of these Malaysians is factored in.

Singapore public transport lauded

To make the case, the piece quoted two Malaysians who explained why they chose to work in Singapore.

They touched on job prospects, as well as the reliability of public transport.

Ava Rozario, 29, who works in the wildlife field, told The Sun Daily that Malaysia has little job opportunities in her field, unlike in Singapore.

She said: “I love to work in Singapore because the country offers me the option to master what I’m interested in. But I still have hopes of working with wildlife in Malaysia.”

Yuni Lim, 24, who works in customer service here, was quoted as saying that she loves Singapore due to its efficient transport system.

She said: “In Singapore, you can rely on public transport. You can go to your destination by train or bus.

“But in Malaysia, you won’t be able to know when the bus or train would arrive, even though there is a schedule.”

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