Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Minimum Wage comment in Malaysiakini

Minimum wage absence affecting marriages
Arbibi Ashoy
Apr 10, 07 1:50pm
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I refer to the letter Minimum wage not a cure-all.

It is important to note that minimum wage is a pertinent and important issue amongst the Malays in Malaysia as most Malays are fixed-income earners (known in Malay as ‘makan gaji’). The minimum wage of a civil servant in Malaysia is RM450 and in the private sector even lower.

Most fixed-income earners do not earn commission or allowances. They have no opportunity to earn extra income. Their employment contract even states that they are not allowed to moonlight for extra income because this will affect the performance of their full-time day job.

So what is the alternative? Go for a higher education? Not everyone has the brains. Become a salesman and earn commission? Not everyone has the flair. Anyway, if everyone wanted to work in the sales and marketing department, who is going to work in the accounts department, the warehouse, the guardhouse and so forth?

Which is why minimum wage is important to the Malays too. Also, there is a serious problem of drug addiction within the Malay community. Minimum wage would provide a stepping stone for ex-drug addicts to improve their situation.

In Malay society, marriage is very important. Thus by denying the Malays a minimum wage, the deputy prime minister is denying them the opportunity to get married as the requirements for marriage, the ‘wang hantaran’ (dowry) is ever increasing in size.

This causes social problems amongst the Malay population such as addiction to pornography as well as the abuse of massage parlours and brothels as a substitute for a wife. For the Malay woman, polygamy is always at the back of their mind and is a source of anxiety and sleepless nights if her husbands is fairly well-off financially.

I disagree with the writer that negative income tax is a better alternative solution. This encourages laziness. Why work harder when doing less may actually earn you more? Whereas minimum wage reduces voluntary unemployment as getting employed becomes worthwhile.

Minimum wage also encourages Malaysians to perform jobs such as waiting on tables and construction work which normally only migrant workers are willing to do.

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