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Cheap, exploited labour cannot build a sustainable nation

We as a nation have failed to honour and cherish the gift of labour

Photograph: The roads travelled for work - Women Migrant Workers in Singapore and Malaysia by UN Women Gallery/Flickr

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Malaysia has long depended on the availability of cheap labour to build the country reaping easy profits and rapid development.

Along with the ease of access to cheap labour comes untold stories of misery from migrant workers from the Asean region and other countries such as India and Bangladesh too.

The recent engagements with Indonesia and Malaysia’s unwillingness to enact laws to protect even domestic workers show how much we lack the political will to ensure that a culture of honour and care takes root here.

Despite six decades of touting a progressive governing model, the nation still has not given domestic workers some basic labour rights, leading to numerous reports and unaccounted cases of abuse.

Many private sector enterprises – from plantations to manufacturing to construction firm – are stained with the sins of much abuse.

You don’t have to be a religious scholar to know this painful truth.

When ‘white flags’ are flown by migrants – alongside our own citizens’ cry for desperate aid – we must own up to having failed humanity.

When Covid clusters break out among migrant workers’ colonies, we suddenly realise their living conditions are pathetically inhumane. This is the benchmark of decades of abuse.

Despite all the politically correct statements from the government, we as a nation have failed to honour and cherish the gift of labour.

Profiteering through cheap, easily available migrant labour while abusing human labour with impunity and taking cover under a systemic culture of greed, corruption and selfishness cannot take Malaysia to the next frontier of development.

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We seem to be a failing culture despite the grandiose and increasing number of places of worship.

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A. Hess
A. Hess
5 Aug 2021 11.06pm

If the country is not able to afford the market price for labor then it should not go ino that business or market area. If the business is lucrative with potential for good returns, then consider investing in technology/robotic support to run the business. Profiteering by resorting to cheap and underpaid labor is not only demeening and shows no respect for a fellow human being trying to make a living, it will not sustain over time. An unhappy work force will eventually lead to labor and business disruption. The country need to rethink and revamp the way it undertakes, conducts and does business through a well trained and adequately paid workforce. The days of cheap imported labor for industries and other business operations should cease.

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