Saturday 11 June 2011

Welfare state: DAP dares Najib to enact minimum wage

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — As Umno and PAS battle over their welfare state policies, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng said today Penang’s welfare policies were sparked by Barisan Nasional (BN)’s failure to impose a national minimum wage and increase real wages.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that the results of the recent PAS party election was a victory for the DAP, pointing out that the new PAS line-up now championed a welfare state and not an Islamic one.

“Elections are won in the centre and DAP can understand Najib’s concern that PAS’s stand on the middle ground, especially on helping the poor who are affected by Umno’s subsidy cuts will cost Umno and BN votes in the next general elections,” said Lim in a statement today.

The DAP secretary-general said the rich were benefiting at the expense of the poor from the Najib administration’s latest subsidy cuts on essential goods while maintaining big-ticket gas subsidies for independent power producers (IPPs).

“That is why DAP challenges Najib to enact a minimum wage and increase real wages in tandem with the subsidy cuts,” said Lim.

The Penang chief minister said the lack of a minimum wage policy had “forced” his administration to implement welfare policies like increasing welfare aid, giving RM100 yearly to 115,000 senior citizens, single mothers and the disabled and giving RM1,000 one-off payments to their beneficiaries.

Lim added he also allocated 150 acres public housing land in the Batu Kawan township ranging from RM72,500 to RM220,000, set up a RM2 million dialysis centre in Balik Pulau that charged just RM30 per treatment, and refused to increase domestic water tariffs.

“Najib’s attack on Penang giving RM100 yearly to all senior citizens regardless of race, religion and political affiliations can not hide the fact that the previous BN state government failed to give a single cent to Penangites. Even Umno and BN leaders lined up to receive such grants whether RM100 yearly or RM1,000 one-off,” said Lim.

He pointed out subsidy cuts could improve efficiency if such measures were supported by a national minimum wage, increased real wages and the removal of IPP RM131.3 billion “mega-subsidies”.

“Reports show that 40 per cent of households in Malaysia earns less than RM1,500 in average monthly income,” said Lim.

“Between 2000 and 2010, wages increased by only 2.6 per cent, meaning that in the last ten years, there has been wage stagnation and our wages cannot match the rising cost of living,” he added.

Lim pointed out that only less than two million of 12 million Malaysian workers paid taxes because of wage stagnation and a a lack of minimum wage.

Najib aims to increase Malaysia’s gross national income to RM1.7 trillion by 2020 from RM660 billion for 2010.

His administration has targeted this year to implement a minimum wage policy, but has faced resistance from employers who worry it will hamper business.

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