Walked out from Ikano and HH headed to pay the parking ticket. I naturally stood a foot away from the machine.


“Why you stand so far a way?”
“I thought……”
“Erm… For a moment i thought you’re withdrawing money from an ATM.”


Then i started to think, the matter of how much one earns and saves is such a secretive and touchy subject here. People who accompany their friend to “press money” from the ATM normally stand far aside and pretend to look away from the screen. Haha, its so funny whenever i look at their expressions.

It’s only natural that people are afraid of letting others know how much they have in their bank account. You never know! Your favorite laundrette man might be a multi-millionaire who has one hundred and five listed companies but at the same time also a disturbing predilection for sniffing women’s panties.

We’re also afraid to tell people how much we are earning. Maybe not afraid, but embarrassed?

But why embarrassed? Is it that you earn so little you fret people looking down on you? Or is it that you earn too much and you worry they will blackmail you with anthrax letters?

The question “How much you earn ah?” is considered fairly intrusive to me. Others find it completely rude and offensive. It’s just like asking “Eh how long is your ku ku jiao ah?”. No one even bother answering you. They think,


“Why you want to know? It’s very personal can?”
“关你屁事。 (None of your fartking business.)”


Porkie said in UK, people would normally answer such question. He said maybe it’s because of the minimum wage thing (the least you can earn is £5+ per hour), so people don’t really bother about it. Or maybe they’re just not as KIASU as us! But in Malaysia, it seems like a complete taboo to talk about salary openly.

Then i wondered, what’s so ashamed to answer that? If i earn RM1,500 a month, why can’t i just say so?

Even when very close friends pop the sensitive question, maybe we’ll answer reluctantly and give a very ambiguous figure.


“Ok lo, enough eat enough use lor!”
“Normal lo. Normal admin rate lor.”
“Less than five figure lo. 搵食艱難啊! (Find eat very hard ah).”
“Very little nia.” (added by Ellone)


Hardly do you hear people answer,

“Me ah? I earn RM2,820 a month lo. You deduct the EPF yourself la.”


Do you think we should talk about salary more openly? Because if no one talks about it, no one knows how much to ask for when applying for a job. How do you know how much is too much and how much is too little? Maybe we’re afraid to ask for too much. The worst thing is, we might set our expected salary too low from the start and never able to recoup the difference.

The employers always win because they know well about the wage range. If you put too high, they don’t hire you. If you put too low, they just pay whatever you asked for and nothing more. They can set salaries using whatever criteria they choose, which perpetuates unfair salaries.

That’s why more often that not we put a higher figure in the “expected salary” column so that there is a space for bargaining. Now applying jobs is like selling Gucci bags in pasar malam.




So, how many of you would tell me how much is your salary?