The salary of a recent job posting has prompted netizens to compare the drastic difference between the average salaries in Singapore and Malaysia, two countries that are divided by a mere border.
A Twitter user with the handle @histonomer took to the social media site on Sunday (Aug 1) to share a screengrab of a recent job posting he had come across. The listing, which was for a graduate research assistant position, was posted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia. With the project title being, “Investigating the Effects of Exercise Training on Metabolic Markers,” the posting specified that its source of funding was from a short-term grant.
Under the list of requirements was the salary, which was listed to be a minimum of RM650 (S$208.01).
@histonomer found the rate disturbing, sharing the screenshot with the caption, “RM650 (a) month. The scientists in this country don’t deserve this disgusting devaluation of labor. I feel sick and I cannot overstate how mad I am feeling right now.”
RM650/month. The scientists in this country don't deserve this disgusting devaluation of labor. I feel sick and I cannot overstate how mad I am feeling right now. pic.twitter.com/aGGBlBSEPQ
— 𓆉 suf 𓆉 | 🏴 (@histonomer) August 1, 2021
The thread continued with the netizen giving points as to why the listing elicited the response that it did from him, pointing a finger at the “exploitative academia” and not the supervisor.
“It’s not some sketchy institutions mind you,” he wrote. “It’s USM. Not blaming the supervisor at all. I’m blaming the exploitative academia. ‘Short term grants’? How little is the grant that necessitates this level of underpayment?”
As the tweet gained a lot of ground after making its rounds on social media, the netizen clarified three main points.
“I did not reach out to the PI but the job posting did not really indicate clearly if this is full time or part time,” he explained, “but knowing how GRA works (enrolled as a Masters or PhD student), I assumed the former.”
He also stated that he knew that the word “minimum” was stated in the listing. “I am aware of the word ‘minimum’. But I have worked as an RA before in UKM, and my salary was RM1.8k (after nego okay, offer was RM1.5k) in 2016 and I was barely surviving as a single 25yo man. Please do not tolerate sh**ty pay, it’s 2021, he urged.
After further research, he added, “It’s actually not part time, after checking LinkedIn. But very clearly posted as a full-time position.”
The third point he published was, “Imagine being a research scientist but failing critical thinking. FRGS grant being hard to get doesn’t justify wage theft and cheap labour. Have some f**cking compassion.”
The netizen also shed light on his experience with dealing with the academe. “There’s no hidden monetary benefit by being a masters or PhD student. Our theses don’t generate money. Our work falls under uni IP. Our effort goes to you in your own ultimate-authored papers. The only thing we get is first authorship and even that won’t translate to monetary gain.”
While his original tweet has garnered thousands of re-tweets, one netizen in particular, who holds the handle @speechleyish shared the post, saying, “This is appalling. How can a graduate research assistant get by on RM650 per month? Once again, pretty obvious why our brain drain is so bad in Malaysia – the average RA salary across the border in Singapore is about S$3,000 (that’s about RM9,370).”
This is appalling. How can a graduate research assistant get by on RM650 per month? Once again, pretty obvious why our brain drain is so bad in Malaysia – the average RA salary across the border in Singapore is about S$3,000 (that's about RM9,370). https://t.co/rWQWsAKpfK
— Soon-Tzu Speechley 孫子 (@speechleyish) August 2, 2021
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