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Working in Penang

As the third largest in Malaysia, Penang’s economy has an international focus and continues to grow. Situated at the cross-roads between the East and the West, Penang is a hub of global economic activity, ideal for reaching out to companies around the world. Read on for more info on working in Penang.

Local Economy

Penang is currently the state with the highest GDP per capita in Malaysia. With a booming manufacturing sector that makes up almost half of the overall state GDP, Penang is a popular recipient of foreign direct investments pouring in from MNCs, especially in the manufacture of electrical and electronic goods.

Nicknamed “Silicon Island”, the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone in the southern part of the island is host to electronic plants for global companies such as Dell, Seagate, Intel, Toshiba, Keysight Technologies and AMD.

Further infrastructures to support the thriving manufacturing industry are also on the way, including the establishment of a new business center in Batu Kawan, which has also recently received a generous reinvestment from Seagate to boost manufacturing over the next five years.

Organizations such as the Penang Development Corporation and InvestPenang are also in place to enhance the socio-economic development and promote investments in Penang. In short, Penang has a robust manufacturing industry, where opportunities in executive-level management, investment management,

engineering and entrepreneurship can be found.

Job Hunting in Penang

Due to the structure of the work permits for expatriates, it is generally expected that those coming to Malaysia will already have a job offer lined up from a sponsoring company.

Malaysia is very keen to employ professionals from all countries and international hubs like Penang are especially open to hiring expatriates.

A good place to start looking is in the mainstream English daily newspapers, The Star, The New Straits Times and The Sun, all of which have online versions.

Another avenue is to look out for vacancies in companies with branches in Penang, such as Seagate, Toshiba and Intel, which are currently expanding their local presence and looking for new talent.

Income Taxation in Penang

As an expatriate working in Penang, your personal income is taxed according to your length of stay. You are taxed as a resident if you stay in the country for more than 182 days in a calendar year, and the income tax brackets for 2015 are as follows:

  • 0 MYR to 5,000 MYR (1,400 USD) – 0%
  • 5,001 MYR to 20,000 MYR (5,550 USD) – 1%
  • 20,001 MYR to 35,000 MYR (9,700 USD) – 5%
  • 35,001 MYR to 50,000 MYR (13,850 USD) – 10%
  • 50,001 MYR to 70,000 MYR (19,400 USD) – 16%
  • 70,001 MYR to 100,000 MYR (27,700 USD) – 21%
  • 100,001 MYR to 250,000 MYR (69,250 USD) – 24%
  • 250,001 MYR to 400,000 MYR (110,750 USD) – 24.5%
  • 400,001+ MYR – 25% 

If your stay is less than 182 days, you will be classed as a non-resident and are taxed at a flat rate of 25% for all personal income. However, you won’t be taxed if you are employed for less than 60 days in a tax year.

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