Malaysian Government Urged To Review Wage Levels For Young Graduates

Palm Oil
FILE PHOTO: A worker collects palm oil fruits at a plantation in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia January 30, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin/File Photo)

Malaysia's Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) has urged the government to prioritize the review of wages among workers, especially those with lower skill portfolios and young graduates who do not have a lot of experience.

According to The Star, the KRI said low wages have been forcing young applicants to accept jobs that pay an average of RM1,715. This amount is 40 percent lower than the national mean monthly wage in 2017. The research agency called on the government to review the situation of fresh graduates and low-skilled workers to find out if they are receiving enough.

Bank Negara Malaysia also weighed in on the issue. The bank found out in its latest 2018 report that the country is still behind other economies in terms of wages. Labor share of income saw a gross domestic product (GDP) hike of 35.2 percent in 2017 compared to 31.7 percent in 2010.

Despite the improving numbers, Bank Negara said these figures still imply that capital owners receive a significantly higher chunk of national income instead of regular workers and employees. The issue has become a topic of debate among lawmakers and workforce-related institutions.

Former CEO of the Malaysian Timber Council, K.k. Tan, wrote in an op-ed for the New Straits Times that one of the main issues surrounding low wages in Malaysia could be traced back to the education system. Employers have expressed frustration over the inefficiency of Malaysian workers.

"Our education system should be blamed for much of this problem," Tan wrote, adding that foreign workers shouldn't take the blame for receiving higher wages because of their higher performance. Instead, Tan said Malaysia's education system should have an overhaul wherein programs and curriculum will include skill-learning that developed economies have.

Furthermore, Tan stressed that corruption over the years has taken a toll on the Malaysian economy. This, in turn, has impacted the corporate realm and economic drivers in the market.

Last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad encouraged employers to pay higher wages to employees if profits are coming around. He pointed out that the government has taken notice of the trend in corporate settings wherein CEOs have been receiving increased wages while workers salaries "had been slow to rise if not stagnant."

Mahathir further explained that monopoly should not be practiced in the local business sector. He said the gap between regular workers and those in higher ranks should be narrowed, adding that investors should not sign deals with firms or company directors who have histories involving corruption.

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