Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 30.12.2013.
The 6 factors of corruption and crime, minimum wage policy, hikes in petrol price, power tariffs and highway tolls are will not only lead to inflation but also negatively impact salary increment and bonuses for 14.2 million Malaysian workers in 2014. The Department of Statistics has indicated a softening of the Malaysian economy with seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October 2013 increasing to 3.5% from 3.1% in September 2013.
With ensuing inflation from price hikes, the smaller salary increments and bonuses will only make livelihood of ordinary Malaysians worse off. According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) survey with 257 companies involving more than 13,000 employees, executives can expect a 5.63% average increase in salaries and 5.65% for non-executives in 2014. The average salary increase for non-executives last year was at 6.78 %, slightly higher than that of the executives at 6.31%.
Corruption has caused a damaging effect on the Malaysian economy. Malaysia ranked fourth in the world with RM173.84 billion (US$54.18 billion) of illicit funds outflow or dirty money siphoned out of Malaysia in 2011, but is the world champion in terms of per capita due to Malaysia’s smaller population. According to Washington-based financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI) Report, the illicit funds outflow from 2002-11 is RM1.2 trillion or USD 370.38 billion lost from dirty money. Or nearly RM 4,300 lost per Malaysian over the last 10 years.
For Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low to dismiss the illicit outflow of “dirty money” as only an annual loss of RM1 billion from corruption and RM34 billion from crime shows his complete loss of credibility in fighting corruption after becoming a Minister. Even RM 1 billion lost annually from corruption is a huge amount.
Imposing the minimum wage for 2014 with those in the peninsula set at a monthly RM900 while for Sabah and Sarawak it is RM800 would not be a problem if applied only to local Malaysians. PR’s minimum wage policy is RM1,100 monthly is even acceptable to businesses, including Small and Medium Entreprises(SMEs) provided that it does not cover foreign workers.
For this reason, there should be a review of extending the minimum wage to all workers, by giving a grace period of at least 5 years to SMEs employers to adjust before including foreign workers. SMEs have even complained of being forced to give even higher pay to their local Malaysian workers who are upset that Malaysians are now paid at the same rate as foreigners.
To ensure harmonious industrial relations, some SMEs have resorted to paying higher than the minimum wage to Malaysian workers. However this only adds to the cost of doing business which will be reflected by increased prices of goods, causing consumers to lose out and undermining Malaysia’s competitiveness.
Further Malaysia loses out when foreign workers send most of their money home. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan told Parliament last month that remittances by legal foreign workers doubled from RM 10 billion in 2009 to almost RM20 billion last year. The top five countries that received remittances from Malaysia in 2012 are Bangladesh (RM3 billion), Indonesia (RM3 billion), Nepal (RM2 billion), India (RM625 million) and the Philippines (RM561 million).
This RM20 billion foreign workers’ remittances are expected to double when the minimum wage is fully applied. Malaysian employers and employees should be looked after first by ensuring that employees enjoy a higher minimum monthly wage of RM 1,100 and giving employers especially SMEs, a grace period of at least 5 years for SMEs to adjust before extending the minimum wage to foreign workers.
As for price hikes of petrol, power tariffs and highway tolls will only contribute to a domino and chain effect on inflation on all goods and services. These price hikes could have been avoided if the Federal government practices an open government that is competent, accountable and transparent by focusing on cutting down costs first before increasing revenue through price hikes.
What ethical authority and justification has the Federal government in raising prices when it refuses to implement open competitive tenders, publicly declare assets and punish those involved in malpractices such as exposed in the annual Auditor-General Reports?
Where is the moral imperative to raise prices when the Federal government has no political will to fight corruption and turns a blind eye to the purchase of luxurious properties by BN cronies and its family members not just in Malaysia but also overseas amounting to hundreds of millions of ringgit, whilst ordinary Malaysians struggle with rising prices and rising household debt of 83.5% of GDP,the second highest in Asia?
Malaysians made the right choice in rejecting BN’s economic mismanagement by giving PR 51% of the popular vote against BN’s 47% during the last general elections. Clearly the BN manifesto of providing economic benefits to the rakyat is simply a lie, including no highway toll increase, that has exposed BN as a party without any credibility and betrayed the trust of even its minority 47% supporters.
LIM GUAN ENG
—-Mandarin Version —–