Wee: Be fair to senior workers who don’t have degrees

PETALING JAYA: The government should bear the difference between RM3,000 and the average wage if it goes ahead with setting a minimum wage of RM3,000 for graduates, said Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic).

The Ayer Hitam MP said that if, for example, the current average minimum wage for graduates is RM2,300, the government should foot the remaining RM700 to be fair to those already working.

“Is the government really financially prepared to bear the billions of ringgit for this purpose?” he questioned in a Facebook post yesterday.

“Just making Khazanah Nasional and other government-linked companies dispose of assets acquired during Barisan Nasional’s time and taking Petronas’s dividends are not long-term solutions,” he said.

Dr Wee said the government must heed its own Fiscal Outlook 2024 report published by the Finance Ministry to reintroduce the GST, which will do more to strengthen the economy and reduce tax evasion.

In the video, he further said that if a minimum wage for graduates was introduced, it must factor in locality.

“We cannot shoehorn the RM3,000 minimum all over Malaysia when there are places with a lower cost of living,” he said, giving the example that Shah Alam in Selangor is vastly different from Jeli, Kelantan.

Lastly, he said that there should not be discrimination against existing experienced skilled workers with the introduction of any minimum wage.

“We have to be fair to senior workers who do not have degrees,” he said.

“If you raise the minimum wage, then also raise the wages of all those skilled and experienced people to commensurate with their years of service.”

Implementing a RM3,000 minimum graduate’s wage leaves many small businesses with two options, he said.

Employers can either raise all of their graduate workers’ monthly wages to RM3,000 each or retrench a few degree holders to save costs and halt hiring. The first option means a higher cost of doing business, and the second leads to higher unemployment, he said.

“Not to mention questions of fairness for existing employees with seniority and experience. They are usually more competent in spite of lacking a tertiary degree but still earn less than RM3,000.”

“Of course, I want the best for Malaysian graduates,” he said. “(But) everyone knows that the cost of living today is far higher compared to before 2018. New graduates aren’t the only group facing difficulties.”

Dr Wee made the comments after Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said last week that the government is considering setting the minimum wage for graduates at RM3,000.

He said a White Paper will be presented to the Cabinet following discussions between the Economy and Human Resources Ministries.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the National TVET Policy, which will be launched on June 2, will also look into the salary structure.

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