Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Arbibi Ashoy; The Rich and the Poor

This writing in Malaysiakini letter
Rights of rich outweigh rights of poor
Arbibi Ashoy
Jul 23, 07 5:43pm Adjust font size:

I refer to the letter Taxing rich to pay poor is daylight robbery.

It is important to clarify that the MTUC is seeking a minimum wage legislation of RM900. The MTUC is not asking for better social welfare or cash handouts from the government. It is asking that people who do a job, deserve to be duly paid for their effort.

Social welfare is not the same as minimum wage as welfare is meant for certain categories of people such as the handicapped, the physically and mentally ill, the unemployable, the homeless, single mothers, the elderly and children. Thus minimum wage does not affect productivity and does not encourage laziness as some have accused. In fact, minimum wage makes hard work become more attractive as the benefits of remaining in employment actually increases.

The writer argues that salary should commensurate with qualifications and experience. So who gets to decide who deserves what? If companies are entitled to protectionism in the form of tariffs on foreign goods and curbs on the entry of foreign firms into Malaysia, shouldn't the employees of these companies be entitled to protection as well? Since the government protects the employer, why are the employees not deserving of protection as well?

The function of minimum wage is to prevent exploitation of workers by their employers. I find it disappointing that the Malaysian government has neglected the poor by denying them a minimum wage but is always willing to help the rich in the form of ‘bailouts’ and awarding them APs (approved permits).

The argument against the minimum wage is that it will deny some the luxury of having maids. Note that I have used the word ‘luxury’ because in my opinion, having maids is a ‘luxury’ but earning a decent living is a ‘basic necessity’.

So, Malaysia is a country where the rights of the rich outweigh the rights of the poor. Shocking still is the small minority of Malaysians who are willing to thwart the attempts of the MTUC to eradicate poverty simply because they have become too accustomed to their comfort zone.

I also disagree that taxing the rich is daylight robbery. Any facilities provided by the government for the poor also benefits the rich. These would include free healthcare (including major operations), free or subsidised education, free self-improvement courses, unemployment assistance, rent-controlled flats and houses, free library membership, legal aid, day care centres, an affordable and efficient transport system, free gyms, sports and recreational centres, free meals and textbooks for schools as well as government sponsored tuition and counselling for academically weak and problem students.

Tax is not ‘robbery’ if the money is put to good use and not splurged on wasteful mega-projects or if the money does not find its way into the pockets of politicians and their cronies.

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