Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan has reportedly said that an enhanced minimum wage would only benefit foreign workers.
His argument seems to be premised upon the fact that migrant workers remit “surplus” salaries to their home countries. It also seems to be his contention that such repatriation of surplus salaries deprives our economy from benefiting from a big portion of the wages earned by the migrant workers.
Essentially, what Shamsuddin seems to be saying is that all migrant workers ought to spend all their salaries earned here and, in the process, neglect their financial obligation towards their families in their countries.
Such a proposition by the MEF is testimony to their uncaring disposition to the circumstances under which migrant workers seek employment overseas in the hope of uplifting themselves and their families from the economic challenges in their home countries.
Needless to say, no citizen of a nation would elect to leave behind his or her family and loved ones, culture, culinary delights and festivities except for the sole purpose of eking out a living to sustain themselves and their families.
For the MEF to have the audacity to imply that such a situation is unacceptable is complete madness!
Values of humanity that encompass one’s obligatory duty to the family unit are ingrained in society, and the same values ought to be upheld in respect of migrant workers.
Sadly, the MEF, fixated on viewing migrant workers as a means of production rather than humans struggling to mitigate their financial constraints, must stand accused of contempt in the matter.
In retrospect, we would be inclined to tell MEF and their associates that, if they view migrant workers as siphoning ‘surplus salaries’ to their home countries, stop clamouring for the services of migrant workers!
We find it repulsive that the MEF has descended to such a cheap and inhumane approach in its attempt to derail the enhancement of the minimum wage. To the MEF, we say stop your nonsensical mockery.
K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress