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The Real Issue With Graduates Becoming Nasi Lemak Sellers Or Uber Drivers

We feel that the controversy over Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comments regarding university graduates becoming nasi lemak sellers or Uber drivers is misplaced.

No one—including Dr Mahathir—is suggesting that either of the latter jobs are a waste of time or in any way dishonourable. Anyone who willingly chooses to engage in such activities—whatever their qualifications—deserves respect as human beings and workers.

However, it is also true that a great many young Malaysians—including university graduates—have had to undertake such work not out of choice but because they cannot find jobs to match the qualifications they have obtained through their formal education.

What we should be focusing on is not whether selling nasi lemak or being an Uber driver is worthwhile—because all honest work is honourable—but how to resolve the problem of graduates not being able to find jobs with commensurate pay.

Moreover, we also need to be asking if colleges and universities are giving our graduates the right skills to find jobs.

While certain government leaders might hail the advent of the ‘gig economy’, the fact is that many young freelancers face significant challenges, including the lack of legal knowledge and protections from unscrupulous clients.

Little has been done to help them. An ideal Malaysian economy should protect and provide opportunities for all its workers—whether salaried or freelance—equally. This cannot happen with the Najib Razak administration.

Pakatan Harapan Youth is working to ensure greater flexibility and equity in Malaysia’s economy, including by creating 1 million quality jobs, an increase in wages as well as boosting our creative industries.

We are confident our approach is the best for a more sustainable future. We hope that all young Malaysians will support us in this effort.