Gig drivers in Malaysia earning less after pandemic

Gig drivers or food delivery riders in Malaysia are no longer earning as much as they did during Covid-19, when demand for deliveries skyrocketed due to lockdowns.

Sociologist Chin Yee Whah of Universiti Sains Malaysia shared that these riders used to earn thousands of ringgit per month (RM1,000 is equivalent to around S$290).

Part-time driver Moses Chin reported that he used to earn RM1,000 per week. He continues to drive at night and on weekends to supplement his income now as a technician. For Iqbal Syamil Hamdan, who took on work as a driver last year, monthly earnings come to about RM1,500 or a little more than S$430.

“Taking up gigs is worse than being caught in the middle-income trap, because as more people join, the income for a driver or delivery rider becomes much lower,” Chin [Yee Whah] explained, saying this would not be a sustainable source of income especially for workers settling down and raising a family.

He also expressed concern for Malaysian youth, as earlier this year a private university survey revealed that 49% of school-leavers after taking the Malaysian Certificate of Education (equivalent to Singapore’s O-levels) have no intention of furthering their studies, while 26% intend to work as delivery riders.

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Chief of Staff Asia