Don't go spending lavishly next year. Inflation is gonna rise and your salary increment may not be as good as first expected.

In other news, the Finance Minister has been whacked for withholding funding for a university college under MCA, while Hishammuddin Hussein serves up a shocker by siding with PM Mahathir Mohamad instead of his cousin, Najib Razak

Law and order

Tighten that belt, Malaysia

Get ready for a leaner, meaner 2020, folks.

According to human resource consulting group ECA International’s latest survey, Malaysians will only see a 2.9% real salary increase next year. And that’s a massive drop from the 4% increase we enjoyed this year, apparently.

Not to worry, though, people, ‘cos ECA says the rate is still quite high. Still, its forecast does see Malaysia drop out of the Top 10 international rankings for real salary increases.

India tops the survey, with a real salary increase of 5.4%, with Asia providing nine of the top 10. Ukraine is the only country outside Asia in the top 10 list.

But waaaaiiiitttt just a doggone minute. Didn’t the government last month say that salaries were expected to increase by 4.4% in 2020? Well, yes. The forecast in the Budget’s economic outlook also said per capita income would increase by RM2,000.

So, how does this gel then with what we’re now being told? Is the government lying to us?

Well, it seems that Putrajaya was talking about overall salary increases, while ECA is focused on “real salary” increases. The key is in this phrase here: “Despite the forecasted nominal salary increase staying at 5.0%, inflation in Malaysia is expected to rise from 1.0% to 2.1%, which will reduce the rate at which salaries increase in real terms for workers in the country.”

Basically, real salary increases are salary increases after they are compared to the inflation rate. The higher the inflation rate, the lower your real pay increase is gonna be. More or less.

In fact, ECA has given a higher rating for overall salary increase than Putrajaya did. So we guess Pakatan Harapan didn’t lie to us. Not about this, anyway.

Of course, we are talking about averages here. So you may get a pay increase, or you may get nothing at all, much like us in 2019, when overall increase in salaries was supposed to be at 5.2%.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the average world real salary increase is only 1.4%, so we are way ahead. And also in case you’re wondering, Singapore is only slightly higher than us at 3.0%.

Little consolation, though, as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines are all in the top 10 list.

It's all about the money, honey

There’s a big debate brewing and it’s all about funding.

Money Minister Lim Guan Eng says the government is willing to provide RM30 million in funding to Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, but only if MCA relinquishes control of the institution. He says the government cannot provide public funding to any institution which is held by a political party.

All well and good, yeah. Thing is, while TAR UC is certainly controlled by MCA (its Board of Governors and Board of Trustees being full of politicians from the party), as far as we can tell, the university college (which was initially set up in 1969 as a college) has always operated as a public, non-partisan institution.

Needless to say, Lim’s statement – initially delivered at a ceramah but subsequently sent out as a press statement – was lambasted by MCA bossman Wee Ka Siong, who accused the minister of misrepresenting facts.

Wee also hit out at Lim for going back on his word, claiming that the latter had bragged prior to GE14 that Pakatan would help TAR UC students should it come to power.

The MCA chief further slammed veteran DAP MP Chong Eng, an alumnus of TAR College, for saying she’d always paid her fees, “just like any other international college”. Wee’s contention is that TAR UC is unlike any other international college, as it charges much cheaper tuition fees.

The debate about funding prompted a Free Malaysia Today reader to write in, questioning the need to take immediate action by withholding funds.

The reader, one T.K. Chua, says TAR UC was established as a means to provide Malaysians with tertiary education at lower rates, and was started as much by the Chinese community as by MCA. Yeah, Chua agrees MCA should surrender control of the university college, however, the reader feels the party should be given time to do so.

Chua makes valid points. Unless there’s evidence of cash being diverted into MCA’s coffers, there really isn’t any need for funding to be stopped so abruptly. The only people suffering here are the students. Not MCA.

So have a heart lah, Guan Eng.

It wasn't him

Following Najib Razak’s defence team’s allegations of Jibby being “shocked” that his defence was called in the SRC International trial, and PM Maddey saying he was “shocked” that Najib was shocked, we now get something even more, well, shocking i.e. Umno man Hishammuddin Hussein saying he doesn’t believe Mahathir had a hand in influencing the trial.

Yes peeps. H2O, who happens to be the Jibster’s cousin, is siding with Mahathir against Umno Supreme Council carrot member Lokman Noor Adam, who’d first made the allegations of tampering.

Hisham says similar allegations were made when Barisan Nasional was in power and those were simply not true. So, in this case, it also mustn’t be true?

Anyway, less surprisingly, eternal bridesmaid Anwar Ibrahim also came out in support of his boss-turned-enemy-turned-ally-turned-boss, saying he too did not believe Lobakman’s claims.

Anwar should know, eh? After all, he made similar allegations against BN during his two sodomy trials, the first during Maddey’s first stint as PM.

In fact, Anwar says, we should not be entertaining such claims unless there are facts to support them. Wise words indeed. A bit ironic, but wise nonetheless.

Meanwhile, in other Najib-related news, Jibby’s former media advisor (read: spin doctor) Paul Stadlen is believed to be hiding out in Israel. Malaysia had applied for his extradition from the United Kingdom, his home country, last month but by then, Stadlen had already flown the coop.

It’s a pity Israel is the one country in the world with which we have no diplomatic relations, isn’t it?

Odds and ends

Here are some other bits (and bobs) of news that happened yesterday which we thought you might be interested in:

  • Police have interviewed Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah as part of a new investigation into the 2009 death of his aide, Teoh Beng Hock, at the Selangor MACC headquarters.
  • According to a research firm, the US Federal Aviation Authority’s downgrade of Malaysia’s safety rating could result in a host of problems, including higher insurance premiums and detrimental effects to the maintenance, repair and overhaul industry.
  • L. Prem Anand, a 52-year-old former George Town city councillor has been sentenced to three years’ jail for molesting a 21-year-old college student outside an entertainment outlet in Beach Street.
  • Faced with a protest vote by the Chinese electorate in Tg Piai, Anwar Ibrahim has called for Pakatan to be given more time to solve problems within government.
  • The Home Ministry will draft a policy to control the abuse of ketum, says deputy minister Azis Jamman.

“Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.”

- Ronald Reagan -


  • The conservative majority of the US Supreme Court has indicated that it will support Donald Trump’s attempts to end a programme which protects those who illegally entered the country as children.
  • Speaking of the Supreme Court, its justices rejected a bid by Remington Arms Co. to be excluded from a suit brought by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre which saw 20 children and six adults killed.
  • Israel-Gaza violence has spiralled with rockets being fired into the former’s territory after an air strike killed a suspected militant.
  • The world’s richest are apparently hunkering down for a turbulent 2020 and are ready for a major stock sell-off.
  • Online streaming service Disney+ has been hit with technical issues on its launch day, with many users reporting that they’d received error messages.
  • Richard Branson has had to apologise after tweeting a picture full of white people to announce his latest project … in South Africa.


This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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