Malaysia First Private Sector Minimum Wage To Come Into Effect In 6 Months
First Published Monday, 30th April 2012 01:46 pm - © 2012 Dow Jones
KUALA LUMPUR -(Dow Jones)- Malaysia introduced its first minimum wage for the private sector Monday as Prime Minister Najib Razak seeks to bolster electoral support ahead of an upcoming national election expected within months.
The minimum wage will be set at 900 Malaysian ringgit ($295) a month for people in Peninsula Malaysia and MYR800 a month for the rest of Malaysia, a move expected to benefit about 3.2 million workers in the Southeast Asian nation, according to a government statement. The minimum wage will be subject to periodic review, depending on economic fundamentals such as national income, competitiveness and productivity, it added.
The decision echoes similar moves elsewhere in the region, as officials from Thailand to Indonesia follow efforts by China over the past two years to boost pay after years of a widening gap between rich and poor. Malaysia has raised public sector salaries and given bonuses to civil servants under the Budget 2012 which was announced in October.
"The introduction of the minimum wage is a historic moment for Malaysia. The lowest-paid will now be guaranteed an income that lifts them out of poverty and helps ensure that they can meet the rising cost of living," Najib said in the statement.
He said the rates were set on the advice of the National Wage Consultation Council after it "carefully assessed the economic conditions and the proposed rates take into account the needs of business, while ensuring that no Malaysian is left behind in the country's economic progress."
The government has until March 2013 to hold a general election but is widely expected to call it in the next few months. Najib introduced a raft of political and economic reforms after the ruling coalition lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 2008 general election.
Among the measures, Najib limited the state's ability to detain people without trial and announced liberalizations in the economy to attract investors as well as handing out cash to low-income households.
Najib was put under further pressure after an April 28 demonstration that saw Malaysian police firing tear gas and chemical-laced water at tens of thousands of protestors who were calling for free and fair elections in the center of downtown Kuala Lumpur.