Wong Chen: Don't increase minimum wage, if ministers can get by with RM1,200

KUALA LUMPUR: Subang MP Wong Chen has criticised the Pakatan Harapan government for increasing the minimum wage by just RM100 to RM1,200 per month next year.

“In my opinion, this is far too little.

"This is an issue about principle, which is to eliminate the economic desperation of our very poorest Malaysians.

“If our ministers can survive on RM1,200, then do it. If you cannot, then increase it, ” he said during his budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 16).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member said that beginning next year, the minimum wage should be raised by the government to RM1,500 a month.

Wong Chen also slammed the government for increasing the income tax rate for those earning RM2mil annually from 30% to just 32%.

“In my opinion, this is a taxation policy that is not substantive enough and appears to be just for show, ” he said.

According to Wong Chen, the increase in the income tax rate for the rich is only applicable to 2,000 individuals, with each expected to contribute RM20,000.

“Overall, the increase of funds to the government is only RM40mil a year. RM40mil a year is very little.”

However, Wong Chen praised the government when it came to expenditure, as it has been decreased from RM316bil in 2019 to RM299bil in 2020.

“When we remove the one-off RM37bil factor, which is the GST rebate payments and special income tax rebates last year for the corporates and rich, Budget 2020 increased to 7% as a whole.

“This is an expansionary budget and, in my opinion, is good because the global economy is very likely to face a serious recession next year.”

Wong Chen subsequently raised concerns regarding the government’s increased allocation for procurement of supplies and services in 2020 compared to 2017.

He said under the former Barisan Nasional administration, there were 1.6 million civil servants with supplies and services spending at RM34.7bil, which translates to about RM21,700 per civil servant.

In contrast, the Pakatan government in 2020 has 1.4 million civil servants with a spending of RM38.5bil, which meant an average spending of RM27,500 per civil servant, he said.

“This is higher than the Barisan administration. I demand a detailed explanation regarding this matter. Otherwise, I’m afraid the PAC will be in session for more than 100 days next year for corruption and leakages proceedings, ” he added.

At the end of his speech, Wong Chen, conceded that Budget 2020 was a better budget than 2019's.

“As a backbencher, I will fully support my government. I hope my government will be able to accept my views and criticisms, just like how the Barisan government did in the past.

“If you are unhappy, please have coffee with me. Don’t complain to Port Dickson MP. It is useless, Port Dickson MP will tell me to continue to speak the truth, ” he said, referring to PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Budget 2020, where RM297bil was allocated, was tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last Friday (Oct 11).

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