Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says he is puzzled by Dr Mahathir disparaging graduates for working as Uber drivers or selling nasi lemak.

He said that in the 1970s, Mahathir had written many books, and one of the most popular was “The Malay Dilemma”.

Another book, which might not be as popular, provided a guide to doing small businesses, he said.

“He was also among the leaders who gave the most encouragement to us to venture into enterprise. But now, when many want to do business, he criticises.

“I am puzzled. He writes a book for small businessmen but criticises people who want to do business,” he told a news conference after launching a satellite campus of the National Youth Higher Skills Institute at Dusun Tua here today.

Khairy was referring to a book titled “I am Usahawan (Entrepreneur)” published in 1988 containing Mahathir’s views on building an entrepreneurial culture.

Last Wednesday, during his second “policy talks” session carried live on Facebook, Mahathir said graduates were taking up jobs as Uber drivers or selling nasi lemak instead of doing jobs for which they were trained because of the lack of opportunities.

Khairy, who is also Umno Youth chief, said some young people who went into business chose to enter that field, and not because they were desperate for a job.

“It is a reflection of the present economic landscape, with the concept of the ‘gig economy’ attracting many by offering flexibility. That is why some choose to become Grab drivers, sell products on the internet and so on, instead of working their whole lives in 9-to-5 jobs,” he said.

“I don’t deny some young people are forced to do business because there are no other suitable jobs for them.

“Since we are aiming to become a high-income nation, we should not encourage Malaysians to only become wage earners.

“We must also encourage the young to become entrepreneurs who will create jobs for others,” he said.-FMT

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