Low wages, lack of technology failed Malaysia to be a developed nation, says Minister Rafizi

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia cannot rely on the low wages of workers to attract foreign investors as neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia are competing on the same offer.

Economy Minister, Rafizi Ramli said, the country has been relying too much on plantation industries with low labour cost but still yield good returns.

“We have been very comfortable with the economic spillovers from oil and plantation industries to the extent that the manufacturing and the service sectors have not seen an increase in wages.

“After 20 years we realised that the structural problems faced by the country had caused the economy to lag behind other nations.

“By now Malaysia should be in the group of economies such as South Korea, Japan, China and Europe but we are behind in terms of technology and expertise,” Rafizi said in a live televised debate titled “Debat Model Baharu Ekonomi Malaysia’ (Debate on Malaysia’s New Economic Model) against Bachok member of parliament (MP) Mohd. Shahir Che Sulaiman aired on RTM1 and Astro, Wednesday evening.

He added, the low wages had caused the difficulty in developing talents that could produce innovative and high value economic products which could have saved us from being trapped in the middle-income economy.

Referring to the low wages, Rafizi said, 50 per cent of the workers receive RM2, 600 which is only RM20 higher than the household income poverty line of RM2, 580 while youth aged between 20 and 24 entering the work force for the first time is only RM1, 682 per month, only RM182 more than the minimum wage.

The Pandan MP also cited that previous government were fond of “cosmetic picture” showing that the country’s economy was doing well by implementing mega projects involving the government.

“Many outside consultants were involved while the civil servants were neglected. When the consultants left the jobs had to be carried out by the civil servants who were not informed and told about the real plan. Now the Unity Government did not engage any consultant but all the work have been done by the civil servants,” Rafizi added.

He added, after 12 years the salaries of workers in the country have worsened and with the government’s intervention the problem has been solved speedily. In short we can say that the 2010 Economic Model has “failed”.

Meanwhile, the Bachok MP Shahir said the new economic model should be based on four factors namely what are the goals, where will it reached, what are the basis of a strong economic sustainability and what are the programmes and its yields.

However, Shahir said, the new economic model should focus on the national stability as the main target adding that the MADANI economy aspires Malaysia to be among the top 30 in the world in the near future.

‘We want to be the best and stable in the economic achievements,” Shahir reiterated.
Shahir also claimed that over 33 years, Kelantan had never received the Federal Government’s allocations except for the past two years under prime ministers, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He added, even though the oil royalty had been denied but Kelantan could survive all the way. Kelantan state government keeps its assets and not spending them.

In answering this, Rafizi said, Kelantan had been receiving a lot of financial aid like other states with little natural resources but doing well. The allocation has never been enough due to poor financial management and administration of Kelantan state government. –Malaysia World News


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