Thursday, May 01, 2008

Minimum wage: Good or bad for Malaysia?

Malaysiakini, the real newspaper have a report "Eventful May Day buoyed by Pakatan MPs' support" by
Rachel Chan Suet Kay published on May 1, 2008 at 6:25pm. The Malaysian working class had been pressing harder, and still putting pressure for an official recognition for a minimum wage. A march was organized to celebrate Labor Day (May Day) apparently well attened as shown in the photo below:

Malaysia May Day or Labor Day march

Among their demands was a minimum wage of RM900. The question I ask myself is, Malaysia at the current stage of development, is setting a minimum wage good or bad for the country? It will be good in the sense that at least anyone who wants to employ a worker will be forced to offer that minimum wage. My worry is that such a requirement may cause certain jobs, which may otherwise be created for those who would find it difficult to secure jobs, to just not be offered as the potential employer may find it not viable. Malaysia still have not come to the stage where we have lots of our own technologies. There may be manufacturing industries which may only be viable if the initiators of such industries are able to offer wages that may not reach the minimum wage set. They would thus prefer not to start such ventures, meaning jobs for the less qualified may be lost. To me, I think having a low paying job is better than to have no job at all.

My opinion is it is better to let market forces determine the wages of workers. If workers find job offers that do not meet their minimum requirements, then they can choose not to apply or accept the jobs. The potential employers who find that they are unable to get the workers they need will then have to reevaluate their offer. If they find they are in a position to offer higher and get their projects off the ground, I am sure they will make a decision to raise the offers.

The workers on the other hand, if they are just not able to find job, may accept low paying jobs rather than staying unemployed.

I would say Malaysia should put off the decision as to whether to impose a minimum wage until the time when we are in a more competitive position.

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