Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Top 10 Tips to prepare for a Psychometric Test

Thursday, June 15th, 2017
  1. Find out what the employer is looking for in the right job applicant

    When advertising and seeking to fill a position, all employers want the best person for the job by finding the right applicant. It’s about hiring the person who will best fit the job; from a skills, intelligence, personality and cultural perspective. Psychometric testing results provide employers with a behavioural profile of you – your level of intelligence or aptitude (measured by aptitude tests), and your personality characteristics (measured by the personality test). The profile will indicate whether you can solve problems, are a team player or whether you prefer to work individually, and other relevant attributes.

    So prior to taking the test, pick up the phone and call the recruiter for a chat to find out what attributes the right applicant has. Often you will also find clues in the position description or job advertisement.

  2. Learn about psychometric testing techniques

    Psychometric Tests are not like any other test you’ve ever taken. All too often job seekers assume that if they are good at maths or can speed read in English or have just finished uni, they will blitz the Psychometric Test. This is a wrong assumption. Psychometric Tests aim to measure your abstract, verbal and numerical reasoning skills. These Aptitude Tests are timed and designed in a very unique way. To master these tests you need to add a new set of test taking strategies to your tool box.

  3. Get yourself in good physical and mental shape

    You need to be at your best to produce good results in psychometric testing. Tiredness is likely to severely damage your scores in the Intelligence or Aptitude tests. Make sure you are well rested and try to take decent breaks in between aptitude tests to ensure you regain your energy.

  4. Get to know the types of aptitude test questions

    Familiarising yourself with the typical content and format of psychometric tests will give you a significant advantage. Verbal and numerical Aptitude Test questions are generally multiple choice questions which must be completed in a very short time. These questions can include topics like social sciences, physical or biological sciences, and business-related areas like marketing, economics, and human resource management. The Abstract Aptitude Test is a non-verbal test that uses shapes as test questions. Generally, no specific knowledge of these subject areas is required. Familiarity with the type of test questions will get you a competitive edge.

  5. Practice the Psychometric Tests online

    Prepare for and practice the Psychometric Tests just like you would for any exam or test. Practicing test questions and training your brain to identify frameworks for solving problems will significantly improve your results. The majority of Psychometric Tests are administered online, therefore it is important that you train or prepare for your Psychometric Test using the same medium as the real tests – online.

  6. Find out the type of Psychometric Test questions you need to practice

    Not all jobs get the same test questions. The level of difficulty and complexity of Psychometric Test questions changes based on the job you are applying for. A test for a management position is likely to have more difficult questions than that of an entry role. Ensure you are practicing the right type of test questions for your test.

  7. Plan your time and set milestones

    All Aptitude Tests in the Psychometric Test are timed. On the other hand they are also designed in a way that only 1 – 2% of people who take such a test can actually finish it. Here’s the good news, you don’t have to complete all the test questions to get a perfect score, and easy questions score the same as hard ones. The best strategy is to set milestones and if you don’t know the answer to a question, go on to complete others. If you have time left, you can revisit the harder questions.

  8. Use any tools that are allowed

    Most Numerical Aptitude Tests will allow the use of a calculator and will advise this upfront. If you haven’t used a calculator for a while, familiarise yourself with the different types of operations well ahead of the test. Brush up on reading tables and graphs as well.

  9. Read and increase your English vocabulary

    Start reading a broader section of the newspaper or any industry specific information regarding the job you are applying for to increase your vocabulary. It will help you to grasp Verbal Aptitude Test questions quicker, answer them faster and therefore improve your score.

  10. Be sure not to trigger a lie or fake good scale in the Personality Test

    Most Personality Tests are designed to indicate whether you were consistent in your answers and to what extent you tried to portray yourself in an overly positive manner. It’s fine to make yourself look good. We all do it when we want to get a job. However, ensure that you don’t overdo it as it will cause inconsistency in your answers. Just be yourself and know what set of your strengths you want to highlight.


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Work, Matters! : Remember that you are “selling” yourself, daily

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
Work, Matters! : Remember that you are “selling” yourself, daily — Shankar R. Santhiram (File pix)

This past week, I have spent my working days at a leading private university in Malaysia.

This institution was established in 1969 by a team of educators to offer the Victorian High School Certificate (VHSC), the first Pre-University programme to secondary school leavers in Malaysia.

And over the past forty eight years, it has grown to become a premier private tertiary education centre. In 2010, it was awarded university status.

Out of one hundred and forty three colleges and universities in the world that participated in the iGraduate Survey in 2013, on student learning experience, this university emerged as the top institution in Malaysia. iGraduate tracks and benchmarks student, and stakeholder opinions, across the entire student journey, from prospective students to alumni.

Being as well established as it is, I was deeply honoured when I was asked to conduct a series of training programmes for their marketing and sales team on enhancing the customers’ experience.

I left university nearly twenty five years ago. And although I was the chief executive of an institution, it has been fifteen years since I moved to corporate consultancy, training and coaching. Being in that rambunctious environment, surrounded by young people who exhibit a palpable vibrancy, made me feel really young, again. It was a thoroughly enjoyable work week.

My focus with this team was to help them understand how they can increase their efficacy as marketers. My sessions aimed at equipping them with the necessary tools towards this end. But to start with, I directed my discussions with them on understanding how they need to market themselves first, effectively, before even promoting their educational services and products.

I explained to them that to live effectively in this competitive global village; to make your goals a reality; and to be real agents of change, you need to interact successfully with others. Marketing yourself is quite simply about learning to communicate why it is in the other person’s interest to interact with you.

It is about your effectiveness in honestly presenting your positive features, the ones that will enhance your relationships in a way that attracts the other person.

And just like selling anything else, when you market yourself, the “hard-sell” has very limited value. Your communication strategy has to be focused on what the listener will find interesting, and by engaging them through what they might be looking for.

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you that the way you speak, the way your walk, your appearance, and the way you carry yourself, all become part of your message. Both the tailored suit or the robust jeans and t-shirt combination, tell a story. Just be sure to decide from the onset, the story you want to tell.

On a daily basis, you need to “sell” the notion that you are a capable and trustworthy person, who will improve your company. You need to show without doubt that you can resolve problems for your employer, and elevate the status of your company.

Here are two most important ideas that I communicated to my trainees this week about how they can “sell” themselves.

Start by asking; what is the fundamental question that every employer wants answers to, at any interview?

“What can this person do for me”? This is the million-dollar question, is it not?

And what do you do at the interview? You will definitely craft the most impressive answer for that question, and you would have practiced the answer hundreds of times, before the interview.

At the interview, when asked, you would have promptly delivered a well-rehearsed narrative.

But to effectively position yourself at work, you need to answer this question daily. And, you are required to respond now, by your actions. You will need to exhibit your skills and abilities. The very same skills you highlighted in your resume, and at the interview. These are the abilities you claimed that you learnt through your work experiences, and education. They need to be apparent to your employer.


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Calling all professionals.

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

WHILE software developer, recruiter, database developer, information security specialist, data analyst, corporate tax specialist, payroll specialist, business intelligence consultant, regulatory specialist and marketing research specialist, are LinkedIn’s “top 10” most-in-demand talents, those interested in traditionally-popular fields also have reason to be optimistic. Many crucial areas like medicine, engineering and accounting, are still thriving.

And, according to Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, the sales and marketing, hospitality, food and beverage line, are also hiring. He, however, says job seekers are reluctant to enter the sales and marketing profession, viewing the job as too demanding, especially with the need for English proficiency.

Multilingual talents for contact centres and customer service roles are also much-sought after, as are HR professionals to help companies map long-term growth plans, he says. Meanwhile, companies involved in ICT, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing, education and manufacturing, will continue filling key positions.

“With new manufacturing hubs in Negri Sembilan, Johor and Penang, supply chain management experts well-versed in automation, process improvement, industrial engineering and research, are needed.”

And, with financial institutions strengthening their governance structures, positions to manage anti-money laundering activities, sales and regulatory compliance, are opening up, he adds.

“New rules and regulations for financial institutions are being introduced, so, there’s a greater demand for risk managers and compliance professionals.


With only 7,000 over medical specialists, including 4,000 in the public service, there’s an overall shortage of specialists. It’s not just the numbers that’s the issue, but the need to maintain the high standard of specialists. On a positive note, there’s a fair distribution of these specialists nationwide.

The key now is to ensure that specialists remain in the public sector to impart their skills and knowledge to the next batch of experts. The Health Ministry and universities must continue sending their trainees for attachment and specialised training overseas. We should also utilise private sector expertise to train future specialists.

Association of Specialists in Private Medical Practice Malaysia president,

Dr Sng Kim Hock

We have more than 6,500 clinics and some 7,000 GPs equally spread out in the urban and rural areas. There are too many GPs. And now, with the government absorbing only the top 40% – 50% of new doctors who complete their four-year contracts in the service, there will be a huge spillover to the GP sector. Plus there’s an influx of overseas­-trained doctors. The existing moratorium on new medical colleges is a temporary solution. Unless issues of oversupply of doctors, and encroachment of private hospitals and diagnostic centres in primary care are addressed, the concept of family practice and personalised care envisioned by the Health Ministry will only be a dream.

The ministry should build more hospitals and create more posts. Medical schools must have their own teaching hospitals. And young doctors should be encouraged to explore avenues like lecturing, research and other non-clinical areas.

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Those in prestigious professions still a sought-after lot.

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Traditionally prestigious professions still have it – those in these jobs remain sought-after today, although their counterparts in the digital industry are in high demand.

Despite talk of a glut, medical specialists, accountants, engineers, architects, clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists and dentists are still much needed in the country.

A check with the relevant associations revealed that these professionals are crucial for Malaysia to achieve developed nation status. These roles are vital in ensuring affordable, quality service, especially healthcare, for the people.

On the other hand, the manufacturing, wholesale and retail, and finance and insurance sectors may have too many workers. Thanks to disruptive technology and the challenging economy, these industries (which were last year’s top retrenched fields) continue to see an oversupply of workers. There are also too many general practitioners, especially in urban areas.

The Critical Occupations List 2016/2017, which covers 10 key sectors in the country, underscores the need for accountants, engineers and tertiary level educators.

This time around, however, lawyers – who were on the COL 2015/2016 – have been removed from the list, meaning they are no longer considered to be “critically needed”.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said social media experts were now much sought-after as many businesses strengthened their social media platforms to become more sales-driven.

“Multi-faceted social media professionals who can create, edit and write content, drive engagement and awareness, and manage advertising campaigns to drive sales, are wanted,” he said.

And, with a growing number of large-scale cyberattacks including the global WannaCry ransomware which infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries last month, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity experts are high on the wanted list.

Organisations need such professionals to safeguard their IT operations, Shamsuddin noted.

LinkedIn talent and learning solutions vice-president (Asia Pacific and Japan) Feon Ang said the rise of the digital economy created a strong demand for tech-related roles such as software developer and information security specialist.

But with the high demand and talent shortage, companies must build a strong employer brand to attract the industry’s best, she said.

“Retaining and developing existing talent by helping them acquire new skills to keep up with the evolving needs of the digital economy is equally very important,” she added.

Employers, however, value soft skills more than work experience, Shamsuddin said.

“A candidate may have extensive experience and stellar qualifications but they’re of little value if their soft skills are lacking.

“Employers will look at what motivates the candidate and how they can effectively and efficiently communicate with the team if hired,” he said.

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Learning how to speak properly is important

Friday, May 19th, 2017

Being articulate is a crucial skill in Putrajaya, especially for those who head ministries, government departments and agencies. File pic.

BABY babble may sound cute. We laugh in delight whenever a baby starts to coo and make unintelligible sounds.

But, if left unattended, the baby may have a rough road ahead learning to speak clearly when he gets older, and adults around him may have a tough time trying to decipher his strings of alien sounding words.

As new parents, we have been told by our elders to use proper and clear language when talking to babies instead of baby babble no matter how cute it sounds. The need to master the ability to speak clearly does not only apply to babies, but adults, too.

Most adults do not have speech impairment unless they have some form of oral defect or issues with their voice box.

Being articulate is a crucial skill in Putrajaya, especially for those who head ministries, government departments and agencies.

This writer has covered enough events at the administrative capital in the past five years to witness all sorts of people with articulation issues.

There are those with such a soft voice that even if you place a voice recorder near to the person’s mouth, it can barely capture what he is saying.

When this happens, the frustration on the journalists’ faces is obvious as we know it will be tough to write the article later, with our bosses breathing down our necks, rushing us to meet the deadline.

Besides the soft spoken people, journalists also have to deal with those who have problems putting their thoughts and views into words or sentences for the laymen to understand.

Such speakers also tend to be long-winded, trying to impress listeners with their speeches that are longer than 30 minutes and peppered with jargon

Dealing with such characters is enough to make reporters reach for painkillers to numb the headache as we write the article.

Things go from bad to worse when journalists have to deal with people who enjoy using words and terms that do not exist in the dictionary, in sentences that are confusing, jumping from one subject to another all in one breath.

Once we have picked up our jaws from the floor, we cringe at the task of having to file in an article that our bosses and readers can comprehend when we have trouble understanding it.

For us in the English media, we often have to translate speeches from Bahasa Malaysia to English since Bahasa Malaysia, as the country’s official language, is widely used here in Putrajaya.

On rare occasions, we are spared from translating when speeches are in English, but another thing rears its ugly head — the atrocious pronunciation.

My brain has to do an acrobatic act just to figure out what the person is trying to say because their diction can sometimes be monotonous, sounding similar to the tone when one delivers a speech in Bahasa Malaysia.

I do not expect the speakers to sound British or American, but they should correctly pronounce English words.

A word, if pronounced wrongly, can mean another thing. For example, the word “bow” (bau) refers to the action of bending downward or to incline, while “bow” (bo) refers to a knot with two loops and two loose ends.

Pronunciation is so important that when I pursued my degree, I had to take a class on speaking skills. We had fun learning about it.

I was intrigued by what comedian Harith Iskander shared during a National Transformation 2050 dialogue session with the prime minister and those in the entertainment industry on Wednesday night.

Harith called on his fellow compatriots not to be afraid of the English and Chinese languages if they want their career to go beyond Malaysian shores.

“If you want to move forward, don’t be afraid of the English and Chinese languages,” he told more than 300 movers and shakers of the entertainment industry.

The same call should be made to those in Putrajaya.

Mastering English or Chinese will not make you any less Malaysian, but will instead give you a competitive edge.


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Graduates put their best face forward

Monday, May 15th, 2017
Cashing in: The LCD screen on a taxi in Xian city displaying an advertisement on cosmetic surgery for high school students. The screen reads, ‘First-year high school students’, followed by a phone number.

Cashing in: The LCD screen on a taxi in Xian city displaying an advertisement on cosmetic surgery for high school students. The screen reads, ‘First-year high school students’, followed by a phone number.

ACADEMIC certificates no longer guarantee graduates a good head-start in the workforce. Most Chinese youngsters believe that their future is very much determined by their appearance.

“Undergo cosmetic surgery before seeking a job”, “Earn a living with your face” and “Face value is justice” have become catchphrases among school-leavers in recent years.

“There is nothing wrong with achieving a different look. Nobody would not want to be beautiful,” Internet user Piao commented on a Baidu chat group.

“Studying hard and behaving well are no longer the only core duties of students. They must also learn to maintain a good look to prepare for the working world,” another responder wrote.

There is a trend in China where students rush to change their looks during the long summer and winter holidays.

Industry players are more than happy to cash in and have launched “attractive packages” specially catering for students during these seasons.

Among the popular treatments favoured by students are hyaluronic acid and botox injections. Only about 40% of them opt to go under the knife.

But what is disturbing is that those who seek cosmetic surgery for beautification purposes are getting younger each year.

According to the National Health Report 2016 by, China’s biggest online consultation platform on health subjects, among those who sought its advice on cosmetics-related issues last year, 6% were secondary school students.

“Some eight million Chinese have undergone the knife to change their appearance and about half of them were students,” Chinese Association of Plastics and Aesthetics vice-president Wang Yongan told

About 80% of them were women below 30, who spent on average between 5,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan (RM3,145 and RM6,290) for a new look, he added.

When I was in Xian, an ancient capital in Shaanxi province where Qin Shi Huang – the first Emperor of China – built his empire more than 2,000 years ago, I spotted taxis displaying advertisements on cosmetic surgery for high school students on the LCD screen on top of the vehicles.

Li Jie, a tourist who alighted from one of the taxis, said she did not have the courage to alter her look but would not discourage others from doing so.

“I have read news reports on many failed operations and I’m scared. Furthermore, I’m married and have a steady job,” said the woman in her late 20s, who is helping with her husband’s bakery business in Nanjing.

“But I don’t deny that cosmetic surgery is an investment, especially for those who want to enter the entertainment industry or marry a gao fu shuai (tall, rich and handsome – referring to a man perfect in every way).

“It’d be good if everyone could just have confidence in himself or herself, keep clean and be presentable, but that’s not the reality,” she added.

According to statistics, an average of seven million students graduate from higher educational institutions in China annually.

This year, China will see the passing out of a record high of 7.65 million graduates locally. Plus the 300,000 hai gui, a term referring to those who completed their studies and returned from overseas, there will be nearly eight million fresh faces with high academic qualifications in the labour market soon.


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Produce talent, not graduates

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Noor Kamilah Barvin Mohd Meera’

LIFELONG learning has always been Noor Kamilah Barvin Mohd Meera’s priority as there is a need to keep up with change to advance in one’s career.

“Employers seek talent. One must be skilled to be employed. Unskilled employees will drain the resources of an organisation,” said Noor Kamilah.

“We have been producing a lot of graduates, not talent. For that very reason, I decided to enhance my skills by pursuing the Master in Human Resource Management programme.”

Noor Kamilah is of the opinion that one need not follow the standard route of pursuing a diploma course, followed by a bachelor’s and master’s degree courses, all before the age of 25.

“It is not as simple as that. Theory without practice is a waste. That is why I chose to work and gain experience and exposure before furthering my studies,” she said.

“We can’t deny the importance of upgrading knowledge and skills through lifelong learning. It is useful not only for one’s career but also in making life decisions and when starting a business.

“Lifelong learners can contribute to society in many ways.”

Education counsellor Mohd Zahir Abdul Rahman said lifelong learning helps the workforce adapt to any environment.

LIFELONG learning has always been Noor Kamilah Barvin Mohd Meera’s priority as there is a need to keep up with change to advance in one’s career.

“Employers seek talent. One must be skilled to be employed. Unskilled employees will drain the resources of an organisation,” said Noor Kamilah.

“We have been producing a lot of graduates, not talent. For that very reason, I decided to enhance my skills by pursuing the Master in Human Resource Management programme.”

Noor Kamilah is of the opinion that one need not follow the standard route of pursuing a diploma course, followed by a bachelor’s and master’s degree courses, all before the age of 25.

“It is not as simple as that. Theory without practice is a waste. That is why I chose to work and gain experience and exposure before furthering my studies,” she said.

“We can’t deny the importance of upgrading knowledge and skills through lifelong learning. It is useful not only for one’s career but also in making life decisions and when starting a business.

“Lifelong learners can contribute to society in many ways.”

Education counsellor Mohd Zahir Abdul Rahman said lifelong learning helps the workforce adapt to any environment.

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Respect our firefighters, says Perak Sultan

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

IPOH: More should be done to appreciate the efforts of firefighters in Malaysia, said Perak Ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

In his royal speech to commemorate World Firefighters’ Day 2017 at Ipoh Town Hall, he said it is not enough just to give them medals, certificates, honorary speeches, souvenirs, parades and exhibitions.

Instead, Sultan Nazrin suggested that Firefighters’ Day be made more meaningful by having spiritual events, which are characterised by knowledge.

“Find ways to increase appreciation among the nation and society.

“Equip yourselves with programmes that can give meaningful impact, and are able to bring substantive alterations to services which give long-term benefits to firefighters,” he said to the hundreds of officers, who were there for the celebration.

Sultan Nazrin also presented five suggestions to improve and appreciate the services of firefighters.

They are to:

Create training programmes and improve operational procedures which can increase the professionalism levels of officers;

Identify the latest technology needed to face current scenarios to ensure that efficient services are provided;

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Work and the state of mind

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Mental health and well-being in the workplace has become increa­singly important and is getting much more attention than before.

It is now considered as important as physical and environmental health, mainly as a result of recent efforts by mental health profes­sionals to promote awareness.

Although our understanding of occupational mental health is comparatively new, we now know it can seriously affect workers and may well be very costly to manage.

Mental health problems in the workplace can potentially cause mental illness and is a leading cause of absence due to medical reasons and of long-term incapacity for work, especially in developing countries.

People have to understand that the workplace poses considerable risks of mental health insults and psychosocial hazards. So what is occupational mental health?

There is no widely accepted definition currently, but it may be understood as the management and promotion of workers’ mental health as applicable to the workplace.

This includes managing and promoting the synergistic cooperation and balance between the workers’ and organisations’ perspectives in fulfilling the mental health needs of the workers, and at the same time, reducing the organisational and workplace harms that may be hazar­dous to the mental health and well-being of workers.

In occupational mental health, the main aim is to achieve a balance in mental health capacity and maintenance. This has to be a joint effort by workers and management. Both parties should be working hand in hand towards the same goal – maintaining good mental health and well-being and strong productivity.

Occupational mental health arises from the understanding that the working environment and the nature of the work itself are very important in influencing not only the health of workers but also the productivity and profitability that the organisation plans to record through the commitment of its workers and management.

workers’ physical, mental and emotional health outcomes are affected by their occupational mental health. This means it determines the organisation’s productivity level.

Therefore, everyone should get to know the factors that influence, promote or hinder good occupational mental health and well-being.

There are three major components of occupational mental health and they interact.

workers’ form the first. Each of them has his own uniqueness, talent, personality makeup, resilien­ce and even physical and mental health morbidity. All of these may influence workers’ interaction with the workplace environment and vice versa.

The second component is the organisation’s working environment, which impacts workers’ capacity and well-being. The ways the organisation communicates with workers determine their perceptions and appraisals of the organisation and their relationships with it.

The third is the nature of the job itself. The job may influence worker’s ability to cope with its demands, which may be in terms of physical and mental strength, energy, time or money. The worker’s readiness to handle the job may also depend on his qualifications, experience or level of job training.

What does the job or occupation have to do with workers’ mental health and well-being?

Generally, the more working experience the worker has, the higher the added value to certain individuals and organisations.

But it is not as always good for the physical or mental well-being of the worker. Research has shown that long working periods pose consi­derable risks and hazards due to the hours spent sitting or standing and the sedentary work styles.

This contributes to the development of musculoskeletal syndromes and pain, psychosocial hazards, stress, burnout syndromes, anxiety, depression, and to a certain extent, a shorter lifespan.

Therefore, the management of occupational mental health should involve education and the prevention of psychosocial hazards.

There also ought to be more empirical and scientific data regarding workplace environment and health hazards. We need to study how they interact and influence the workers’ sickness and the organisation’s productivity.

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Cuepacs: Up to 100,000 govt staff may soon become bankrupt.

Monday, May 1st, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Many civil servants are taking up more loans to cope with the rising cost of living, resulting in them being declared bankrupt.

Cuepacs president Datuk Azih Muda (pic) said civil servants from the middle and lower ranks were re­sorting to such measures, thinking that it would offset their expenditure owing to the rising inflation rate.

“How wrong they are. Our rough estimate shows up to 100,000 civil servants may soon be declared bankrupt. As of now, 3,000 of them are already bankrupt.

“This situation may worsen as many more are also taking up loans from loan sharks,” he told reporters during a launching of a Workers’ Se­­­minar, in conjunction with La­­bour Day, yesterday.

Azih said they could lose their jobs or get suspended, resulting in more domestic problems like di­­vorce and broken families.

“Just imagine if half of the 100,000 civil servants are married with children,” he said.

Azih said there were now at least 20 financial institutions, inclu­­ding co­­operatives that had been appointed to provide loans to civil servants by way of monthly deductions.

He pointed out that these entities do not cross check the background of each applicant.

Citing an example, Azih said a civil servant, who is only eligible to apply for a RM50,000 loan, could go to four banks to apply and get a total sum of RM200,000.

“Some even submit fake salary slips to ensure that they are successful and this is when the problem starts.

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