the umbrella group representing 1.5 million public-sector workers,
wants more low-cost housing made available to civil servants on the
lowest rung in cities like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru. – The Malaysian
Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, March 16, 2015.
three families, each squeezing into a small bedroom because the
breadwinner cannot afford to rent a house in a big city on a low-grade
civil servant’s salary.
This is the reality of many civil servants living in cities such as
Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru, said Cuepacs, the umbrella group that
represents 1.5 million workers in the public sector.
Cuepacs president Datuk Azih Muda said these were families of office
assistants and general assistants, the people at the lowest rung of the
civil service hierarchy and who are designated Grade-11 (G11).
Entering the service on a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificate,
their basic salaries are between RM805 and RM820, Azih told The
Even with cost of living (COLA) and housing allowances of RM300 and
RM180 respectively, their gross monthly take-home pay ranges from
RM1,285 to RM1,300.
“Their salaries are only enough to rent out a room in places like KL,
JB, Shah Alam even Klang,” said Azih, referring to rental rates in these
areas that range from RM600 to RM800.
“But it’s not just in the big cities, in places like Bintulu (Sarawak) the rental rate for a room is also RM500 a month.”
The typical profile of these families, said Azih, was that they were
young, have only one breadwinner – usually the husband, with one child
or none, and they come from outside the city.
“So in a single-storey, terrace house with three bedrooms, one family
will rent and occupy a bedroom. Husband, wife, child all squeezed into
one bedroom. “When the relatives of family A come over to visit and they need the
extra space, family B or C will move out temporarily and stay somewhere
“When family B’s relatives come over to visit, it will be family A’s
turn to move out,” said Azih, describing some of their living
arrangements. G11 staff number between 250,000 and 300,000 throughout the country,
according to Azih. Minus teachers, policemen, armed forces and health
care personnel, they make up the most number of the office staff in
“This is why we have kept asking for quotas be set aside in low-cost
homes for civil servants. Housing should not just be left to the private
sector but it should be a social obligation of the government,” said
Cuepacs has constantly drawn attention to the issue of low public
sector salaries. Last November, Azih had called for a 10% salary hike
for government staff due to the rise in cost of living.Last week, he also asked the government to review allowances such as
for COLA, housing, regional and travel, to better reflect the current
rates of prices and goods.
On March 7, Azih was quoted as saying that the government has yet to
announce whether it would review the allowances even though the prime
minister had already approved a study to review them.
“It’s useless if you take too long to complete your study because the
cost of living keeps going up. The government must make an immediate
decision,” Azih was quoted as saying by Bernama. – March 16, 2015.