A recent Reuters report on the increasing number of youth bankruptcies in Malaysia should be cause for concern to all.
The report quotes figures from Standard & Poors which highlights that Malaysia has the highest personal debt among 14 Asian economies. This figure has grown to 88% of our GDP from 60% in 2008,
Moreover, Department of Insolvency figures indicate that 5547 individuals under the age of 35 became bankrupt last year, or twice as many from 2005.
In 2014, the number of bankrupts under the age of 25 was 635, three times from the year-earlier figure.
It is extremely worrying and disheartening that young Malaysians who are starting out in life are being declared bankrupt.
Moreover, this trend will hurt domestic consumption rates, which we desperately need in these times of economic downturns.
We should not be too quick to blame the bankrupts themselves as many of them, as the article highlights, became so because they tried to start businesses, or went into debt simply because they had no other ways to make ends meets.
The Department of Insolvency itself admitted to Reuters that most youths are burdened by study loans, as well as the cost of transportation and accommodation.
These figures are an indictment of the failed policies of the UMNO-Barisan Nasional government, which prioritizes the vested interests and political survival of certain individuals over the people.
The GST, rising cost of living and increasingly out-of-reach housing are all signal failures on the part of this administration to create sustainable opportunity, prosperity and equity for all Malaysians.
Prime Minister Najib Razak claims that his administration now enjoys the support of the “Gen Y.” One wonders how he can say that with a straight face in light of such figures.
KEADILAN and our allies, on the other hand, will seek to ensure a better life for all Malaysians. Combatting corruption and leakages is only the first step.
We also need to completely overhaul our economy, to focus on services and human capital, increase research and development as well as productivity.
Youth bankruptcies are a tragedy Malaysia can ill-afford. Political change is needed to move forward.