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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    22  September 2011

Many Malaysian consumers manage money poorly

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Shopaholics and poor management of personal finances - these best describe a good number of Malaysian consumers.

On average, 41 are declared bankrupt every day, mostly due to credit card debts, while every weekend, about 5 million throng the 300-odd shopping complexes in the country.

These habits are among the shocking revelations on why Malaysian consumers cannot cope with the rising cost of living.

Many of those declared bankrupt due to credit card debts were below 40 years old. “And they do not care about the consequences,” said Fomca chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj.

“Many are facing financial difficulties too early in life,” he told the Protect Our Pockets roundtable conference at Menara Star here on Tuesday night.

Selvaraj said Fomca would embark on a financial education push next month with emphasis on teaching the young.

“In one of our surveys, we were shocked that many children did not even know where money came from,” he said, adding that most replied “the ATM (automated teller machine).

“And, they do not believe that their parents have to work to earn money,” Selvaraj added.

Malaysian Association of Shopping and Highrise Complex Management president H.C. Chan said its statistics showed that one in five Malaysians visited a shopping mall on a weekend. “And the country has about 320 shopping complexes,” he pointed out.

Low said while some people shopped, claiming it to be therapeutic, “the truth is, it is not necessarily based on need”.

Mr. Ravindran agreed to suggestions that the Education Ministry should take the lead in teaching financial management in schools, but not as a formal subject.

See said handling personal finances was something the young had to go through themselves to gain experience.

On ensuring income levels were competitive, Mr. Wong urged the private sector to take the lead as most of the country's manpower was from this sector.

“We should also re-examine our heavy dependency on foreign labour and consider absorbing our senior citizens back into the workforce,” he added.

Some 60 percent of young consumers were already in debt, Fomca said at a separate function here yesterday.

“And, 72 percent of young adults have no retirement plans.”



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