Hike in Singapore wages could draw more Malaysian professionals

JOHOR BARU - Singapore's decision to increase wages for professionals by at least RM900 (S$298.60) from next year could entice more Malaysian professionals to seek work there.

Several local professionals, contacted by The Star, said they were considering the move because of the higher pay and drop in the value of the ringgit.

Accountant Amir Abdullah, 30, said he was seriously thinking of working in Singapore after receiving an offer from a company there.

"It is a good opportunity for me as I will be earning a lot more than here,'' he said, adding that his salary now was RM5,000 a month.

But he wants to take a good look at the economic situation in this country currently before making a decision.

An oil and gas engineer, who wanted to be identified only as Tan, 32, has been employed in Singapore for the past five years.

He said the lower value of the ringgit to the Singapore dollar was a major reason why many Malaysians preferred jobs in the island republic.

But he believed that not many would be able to work there unless they were degree or diploma holders from a recognised university.

They would also have to qualify for a Singapore employment pass (EP), said Tan.

Most of those holding EPs are bank officers, accountants, engineers, doctors and lawyers.

From January, those professionals will take home a minimum of S$3,600 (RM10,780), compared to the present S$3,300 (RM9,880).

Johor South Small and Medium Enterprises advisor Teh Kee Sin urged Malaysian professionals to come back and contribute to the Iskandar Malaysia development project instead.

He said that while earning Singapore dollars meant more spending power in Malaysia after converting the pay into ringgit, the professionals should consider the shortcomings of taking jobs across the causeway.

"Consider the other factors, such as having to commute between Johor Baru and Singapore, and the extra expenses incurred," he said.

Also, the daily commute would have to start from early morning and would end late in the night due to congestion at the crossings.

Renting in Singapore would not be cheap, either. Teh said a room in a HDB flat costs about S$800 (RM2,400) a month, even higher if there was an MRT station nearby.

Malaysia had plenty to offer, especially with the growing investments in Iskandar Malaysia, he said.