Has MCA, going by its president Dr Chua Soi Lek's declaration at the party's weekend annual general meeting that it was ready for war ahead of the looming general election, started waging war on the working class?

This question was posed by DAP's Klang MP Charles Santiago, who last night pointed to MCA's repeated attacks at its AGM that Pakatan Rakyat's RM1,100 minimum wage policy to uplift working class families would bankrupt the country.

NONE"Malaysian families will be better off, their quality of life will improve. So why is MCA waging war against the workers and working families of Malaysia?" Charles asked at a budget forum in Kuala Lumpur.

The attacks, he said, came despite a confidential World Bank report to the government showing that a RM1,100 minimum wage would "have almost nil negative effects". The report was leaked by Pakatan.

The report said the only area that may be affected would be the low-end manufacturing sector and it advised a transitional mechanism for this.

Charles pointed out that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak himself had introduced a minimum wage policy of RM900 for Peninsula Malaysia, but without a transitional mechanism.

In contrast, he said the Selangor government, which has set a RM1,500 minimum wage for its government-linked companies (GLCs), had set up a transitional fund to help smaller GLCs to meet the minimum wage policy in the interim.

"If MCA feels so strong about this, it should have asked the government to set up a transitional minimum wage fund so that the smaller small and medium enterprises (SME) that might have a problem with the transition can be helped," he said.

'Enough of escapism'
While acknowledging that the RM1,100 minimum wage policy may have some impact on inflation, Charles said this would be minimal for most sectors as wages only comprised five to six percent of the production cost.

NONEChipping in, PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli said minimum wage was a necessary reform and Pakatan would not emulate BN's escapism by trying to avoid tough decisions.

Stressing that the reforms should be viewed holistically, Rafizi said any slight impact on inflation could be mitigated by Pakatan's plans to address and break up monopolies in the transportation, water, electricity and telecommunications sectors and this would increase the disposable income of households.

Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud said Pakatan's Women's Agenda would provide what BN's budget could not - a proper support system and financial safety net for women.

NONE"Many housewives, especially those from the lower socio-economic group, will have nothing if anything happens to them - if they are divorced or their husbands die or meet with an accident," Siti Mariah said.

The National Contribution Fund for Women proposed under the plan would see the government contributing RM600 to the fund for every housewife in households with an income of less than RM1,500 a month, thus providing a financial safety net for them, she said.

The plan would also require major employers to have a child care centre, a crucial support system that would allow women to work and be independent, she said.

The forum on Pakatan's shadow budget last night was moderated by DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming.