If there is one thing we can all agree on, is that our incomes have yet to catch up with the considerably higher cost of living in most urban areas of Malaysia. As a consequence, many Malaysians have been driven to take up a variety of measures, such as joining the gig economy or running a small business alongside their own day jobs to keep abreast.
Just recently, netizen @sassylemonlima, also known as Aminah Farid, took to sharing how her 53-year-old mother operates a small business selling Milo to schoolchildren to supplement her income as a teacher during the day. Working as a Montessori teacher during the day, Aminah’s mum eventually came to the realisation that her pay as a teacher simply could not keep pace with her family’s expenditure.
This is my mama, Shafinaz. Montessori teacher in the morning, Milo seller in the afternoon, and my role model in life. She decided to jump into the f&b business when she realised her pay as a teacher was not sufficient to keep up with the rising cost of living. pic.twitter.com/L34fXPXOTg
— lemon lima (@sassylemonlima) August 10, 2020
As such, Aminah’s mother, who is also a single parent, took it upon herself to start a cash business of her own by joining the food and beverage industry via Milo, whom she obtained a license from to start selling beverages. In speaking with WORLD OF BUZZ, she shared that her mother has been running this humble business for over three years now.
As one can imagine, starting a business in the food and beverage industry is far from easy. Being 53-years-old, Aminah’s mum, Shafinaz, faces all the challenges that come with operating her business on her own.
“She has to do everything on her own from making the Milo to selling it, not to mention, the weight of the tong Milo also boleh tahan berat.”
This is on top of the fact that Shafinaz also has to juggle her responsibilities as a teacher during the day. While business has been brisk for the most part over the past three years, the current pandemic has impacted sales considerably, what with a lack of business from school children who are her target market, as schools had been closed for the duration of the MCO period.
With her perseverance and determination to supplant her income with a business of her own, the story of Aminah’s mum has resonated with many Malaysians across social media. While she does not refute the fact that her mother continues to be an inspiration for her with her strength and insistence on being independent, Aminah stresses that her mother’s predicament is also indicative of a systemic problem with income disparity in the country.
“While my mom’s story may come off as a feel good story, please be reminded that people are not supposed to work two jobs to survive.” she notes.
She also goes on to mention that many other people may also be living under similar circumstances as a result of this wage gap.
Not too long ago, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) had just revised Malaysia’s Poverty Line Income (PLI) to RM2,208, after 15 years. This would suggest that the rate of poverty in Malaysia has risen from 0.4% in Malaysia in 2019 to 5.6% in 2020. Coupled by the nation’s historical Gini coefficient results, which is used to measure income disparity within a country’s population, we are beginning to see a widening of the income gap in the past 5 years.
For reference, Malaysia’s Gini coefficient last year was set at 0.407, an increase of 0.008 percentage points from 0.399 in 2016. A Gini coefficient value of 0 means that everyone is earning the same amount.
As more and more Malaysians begin facing the harsh realities of an economy that has been severely affected by the ongoing pandemic, it is crucial to keep in mind that increasing discrepancies of income may eventually lead to more families slipping under the poverty line, should the right public policies not be set in place. For the record, Malaysia’s revised minimum wage, which has been enforced in February of this year, stands at only RM1,200, far below the new Poverty Line Income of RM2,208.
Regardless of which, Aminah remains thankful for her mother’s strength and being the very reason why she continues to strive for her own independence, both mentally and financially, to this very day.
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