Things Malaysians Would Avoid Paying (If They Could)

Malaysians have quite the notorious reputation when it comes to avoiding paying or spending money on certain things. ‘The more we save, the better’ they say. Unsurprisingly, this mindset seems to be ingrained in both the young and old.

But is that truly the case? In reality, there is a big difference between being a cheapskate and to practice frugality. Unfortunately, most of us do not see the difference.

Here are a few examples of things that Malaysians would avoid paying for:

Asking For Freebies

If there’s one thing Malaysians love more than avoid paying for things, it’s freebies. People are willing to queue for hours; exchanging their precious time in return for a freebie during a new product or service launch. Of course, if it’s free, who would say no to it? And if they do purchase the item, they are bound to ask, “Got freebies ah?”

The only downside to this is to consider whether it’s worth spending all those precious hours queuing up. As the saying goes:

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.

Perhaps if the item is truly of value to you, then you decide if it’s worth the wait. If it’s merely for the sake of getting freebies because you know, “rugi kalau tak ambik” (it’s my loss if I don’t take it), then it’s probably not worth it.


Parking has become a rare commodity these days, especially in busy city-centre locations. Rather than parking at properly designated spots that require payment, many citizens would rather double park and block other cars or park in illegal spots.

There are so many downsides to scrimping on parking fees if a person double parks and blocks another car. This situation often leads to cases of road rage. Just look at the countless videos on social media of angry drivers who got into violence after being double-parked. It’s not worth it.

This sort of practice damages more than just the car, but it also sets a bad example to the younger generation. Parking the car in an illegal spot like an alleyway or a towing zone will just add extra expense to the car owner if it gets broken into, clamped or towed away. These occurrences cause more money than just paying a small parking fee. However, people still prefer to break the law in an effort to save a few Ringgit. This is a classic example of being penny wise and pound foolish.

Plastic Bags

Charging for plastic bags is a step in the right direction towards caring for the environment and enforcing the public to go green. Even so, many citizens choose to look at the charge of RM0.20 or RM1.00 (in Penang soon) as a negative initiative. Most people focus on the act of charging for an item that was previously free instead of appreciating the fact that the government is trying to save the planet by reducing the massive amount of plastic usage. No matter how we look at it, this initiative is a step in the right direction in cultivating a society that is more environmentally conscious.


*Trigger warning ahead*

If you’re highly sensitive about defaulting on your PTPTN/student loans, and believe that there’s no need to repay your debts, you may exit this post now. However, if are a responsible citizen who believes that repaying your debt is the rightful thing to do, let’s get on the ride together. 🙂

Ah, student loans. The National Higher Education Fund or in short, PTPTN loans are one of the main reasons why many citizens have bad credit history. According to statistics, the collection rate of PTPTN loan is at a meagre 46%. And as of 2018, defaulters owe RM39 bil (which is about the same amount of money lost through 1MDB) in outstanding repayments.

This translates to more than half of the borrowers defaulting on their loan. Many cite reasons such as having insufficient salary, high cost of living and troublesome paperwork. And there are some who outright exercise their rights not to pay, because according to them – “education should be free”.

My personal take on this? If you took on the loan, knowing fully well that you have to repay it, then yes – you should fulfill your responsibility as a borrower.

I don’t see what’s the argument about. Whether education should be free or not is not a reason to default on your loan repayment. Even more so when you’ve signed a black and white agreement to all the payment terms and conditions. It’s legally binding and you were a willing party when you signed it.

It’s as though they’ve signed an agreement with the government thinking that there’s no repercussions to it. They forgot that with every cent that they do not pay back today, they are robbing the next generation of tomorrow. Doesn’t this go against the grain or their own beliefs that education should be for all? It’s self-centered thinking and hypocrisy at its best here. By defaulting, you are essentially depriving the recycling of funds for future students.

Yes, we all love freebies. But a loan is not free money. It has to come from somewhere. And this PTPTN money you’ve just borrowed certainly did not grow on trees. From 2003 onwards, PTPTN gets its funding by borrowing from financial institutions at an interest rate of 4%-5%. Yet, borrowers are only charged a flat 1% interest rate p.a. And guess where the government has to dig up more money to repay the financial institutions when borrowers default on their payment?

Tax payers’ money.

That’s the blood and sweat money from you, and me and your parents, family and friends. By defaulting on your PTPTN loan, the consequence of it will come back in a full cycle – and shoot us in our own foot.

To sum this up, let’s all do our part and be a responsible citizen. Pay what you owe, and pay what is due. If you have genuine problems in coughing up the funds (and I do believe there are real cases of people in this scenario), the PTPTN is always open for negotiation. If you never ask, you’ll never know. Even by paying the minimal sum of RM 50 per month is better than nothing at all.

Summons & Fines

There is no other country in the world that gives out discounts on parking fines and summons. This is a mind-boggling “privilege” that only citizens in Malaysia get to experience. Malaysians are so lax in paying mandatory summons that the government is forced to offer deductions fines. The point of issuing summons and fines is to enforce the law on the road. The utter disregard most citizens have over such fines is irresponsible. And most of them are more concerned over the loss of cash rather than the repercussions from the law.

To sum this up…

Being a cheapskate is different from being frugal. When you think you can save by being cheap, you would probably incur other additional expenses that you did not expect. Rather than depending on cutting out necessary expenditure, there are many other ways to increase your income and invest your savings.

To find out more, check out our other articles on budgeting and growing your wealth.

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