- I graduated in 1977. My starting salary in government service was RM1,205.
Consider the price of items in 1977: teh tarik (20 sen); mee goreng (30 sen); ais kacang (30 sen); Toyota Corolla (RM18,000); single-storey terrace house (RM35,000); first-class cinema tickets (RM1.60)
Graduates of today earn an average salary of between RM1,500 and RM2,300. They pay RM1.20 to RM1.50 for teh tarik; mee goreng (RM3.50-RM4); ais kacang (RM1.50-RM3.50); Proton Saga (RM35,000); single-storey terrace house (RM100,000); cineplex tickets (RM10).
Hassan Talib, in a letter to the editor published in the New Straits Times
He is wrong on two counts; the single-story terrace house, at least in Petaling Jaya, is more in the region of RM300,000 to RM450,000 -- I've been doing some desultory house-hunting. The cheapest car in the country today, the 660-litre engine Perodua Viva with manual transmission, is RM24,900 including road tax & insurance costs. You can only dream of owning a Toyota -- the most basic model of the 1.5-litre Vios costs RM70,783.
Cars have become so unaffordable that one of the local makes advertises "100% loans". I didn't realise how they managed that till I started car-shopping. Then the salesman explained to me: you buy the most basic model of the car, they put in a loan application on your behalf for the top-end model, the bank approves the loan, and as a result the loan amount covers the entire cost of the car. Thus you get a car with no downpayment at all.
It's a bit scary to think that there are so many people out there who are struggling so badly to manage that they can't scrape together enough for a down payment, and this is the only way that they can afford a car. It's even scarier to think that they will then take a 9-year loan (the maximum term) and struggle to pay the installments.
As for buying a house, I'm now wondering how anyone manages to afford one. Property prices are ridiculous in the city, and if you buy on the outskirts you have to factor in the commute: traffic jams = time & fuel & tiredness. Seriously do you realise that RM450,000 for a single-storey terrace house is nearly half a million? Sheesh! Talk about paying through your nose...
Related reading: Then and Now -- Life Gets Harder in Malaysia