During the National Labour Day Celebration in Putrajaya, Prime Minister Dr Mahatir emphasised the value of 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs and labourers in Malaysia’s economy.
“It is a low salary but if they don’t work, there’s no salary at all. They have to choose. If they work, the will still get a salary,” Dr Mahathir stated.
The statement was made in response to comments regarding local labourers griping about low wages and unappealing 3D work. In a report by the Malay Mail, Dr Mahathir responded that 3D work is honest work and important to the nation’s growth and development.
Additionally, the prime minister reminded Malaysian workers that foreigners might take their jobs if they refuse to work. He was also aware of the anxieties of locals regarding the influx of foreign workers, and reassured Malaysians that the government intends to restrict foreign workers to 3D work.
“If they don’t work, other people [foreign workers] will work. Our money flows out of the country. We become poor and the unemployed have no income.”
The press asked Dr Mahatir if the government plans to pay higher wages for 3D workers. The prime minister said that the government “can’t compel [employers to pay more]” and was in no position to dictate pay levels to those in the private sector.
He reminded workers that “we work for the nation, to develop our country.”
Over a million Malaysians have sought work overseas due to the low wages at home, but they are still forced to work 3D jobs that promise better pay. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of Malaysians that want to find work abroad.
“Employees are attracted to the higher wages offered in those [foreign] countries, where the income promised is triple or even quadruple of what they are earning in Malaysia,” as stated by Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, the executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation.
Critics argue that increasing wages is the key to making 3D jobs more appealing to locals. Even though the minimum wage has been raised from RM1,050 to RM1,100 (S$345 to S$361), the range was still low compared to the promised RM1,500 (S$493) in the Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto./TISG