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Malaysian Employers Dubbed As One Of The Stingiest Paymasters In Southeast Asia

According to a report by Utusan Malaysia, employers in Malaysia are one of the stingiest paymasters in Southeast Asia. Compared to our neighboring countries, Malaysian businesses only contribute 25% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) as wages to workers, while Singapore's is at 40%, Indonesia at 84%, and the Philippines at 76%.

That said, these figures take into consideration of the country's population size, with Malaysia at 33 million people, Singapore at 5.6 million, Indonesia at 273 million, and the Philippines at 109 million people. President of Malaysia's Trades Union Congress (MTUC) Abdul Halim Mansor said that Malaysia's numbers did not make any sense, considering how most employers on average were able to provide wages higher than the stipulated minimum of RM1,200.

He also added the recent discussions on raising the minimum wages to RM1,500, and how many were still hesitant to take up such a mandate. “They keep reiterating that now is not the right time to increase the minimum wage to RM1,500 because of the economic difficulties and COVID-19. This excuse has now become the standard, even if the government has initiated various assistance programs worth billions of ringgit,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers' Federation (MEF) heavily opposes the proposal of increasing minimum wage to RM1,500, saying that the move will only benefit foreign workers in Malaysia. Abdul Halim criticised these notions and highlighted how Malaysian employees and workers were being made to work harder for less in return. “Comparatively, Malaysian employers only spend around 25 percent of the GDP to pay employees, making Malaysia the stingiest country in Southeast Asia in this regard.”

“People now are also seeking jobs with better prospects and innovation,” he said. “A minimum wage increase isn’t just a request, it’s a necessity. We’re not asking for something unreasonable, and don’t want to bankrupt employers. We just want to see a little improvement, that’s all,” said Abdul Halim.

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