Yesterday I explained why the concerns of the employers who are not satisfied by the new RM1,200 minimum wage in the cities are baseless.
But the government should also consider the living wage that was proposed by Bank Negara in line with developed economies across the world.
I have raised this in Parliament before. The fact is that the minimum wage and living wage are different.
The minimum wage, which is the statutory minimum, of RM1,200 is far lower than the living wage. The living wage is not mandatory in nature, but can be introduced through incentives and encouragements.
According to the 2017 Bank Negara Annual Report, the living wage for an individual in Kuala Lumpur was RM2,700, while a household with two children would require RM 6,500.
The living wage goes beyond securing necessities such as food and shelter, but also affords social participation and financial security.
In 2016, nearly 50% of working adults in Kuala Lumpur earned less than RM2,500 per month, and up to 27% of households earned below the estimated living wage.
IDEAS Malaysia a think-tank known for its free market ideas that are frequently referred by major corporations, have also proposed a living wage policy through tax credits.
If IDEAS itself has proposed this, it is clear that the concept that Malaysians need higher wages should no longer be controversial, but accepted in order to drive our economy forward.
The government should look at the relevant sectors as well as incentives in order to introduce a living wage in stages through consultation with government agencies, employers and employees.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN Chief Organising Secretary
KEADILAN Central Leadership Council Member
Setiawangsa Member of Parliament