by FAYYADH JAAFAR
IPOH Barat MP M Kula Segaran Murugeson has slammed International Trade and Industry (MITI) Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali over his statement that a higher minimum wage would hurt small and medium enterprises (SMEs), saying it is another betrayal to the people.
Kula Segaran reminded Mohamed Azmin that the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, which he used to get elected during the 14th General Elections, promised to raise the minimum wage every year. Hence, he urged the government to fulfil its promises.
“Is his U-turn part of a political power move as the Perikatan Nasional coalition is on the brink of collapse after Barisan Nasional has distanced itself from them? If so, it cannot come at the expense of the people,” Kula Segaran said in a statement yesterday.
He also pointed out that Mohamed Azmin’s statement would deter employers who had actually planned to raise wages.
He said employers like McDonald’s, who aimed to raise minimum wages to RM1,500, and Aeon Co (M) Bhd and Westports Holdings Bhd who had implemented an increase, should be emulated.
However, with such statements from the MITI minister, he said employers will shy away from this commitment.
“Higher income is also necessary to keep the economy competitive. For too many years, we lost our best talents because we were not paying enough. This must stop,” Kula Segaran said.
He added that the effects of raising the minimum wage should not stop the government from raising the minimum wage, as this has been done in many countries.
“In a growing economy, raising the minimum wage is inevitable. While there are arguments that SMEs might be affected by the wage increase, there are also arguments that SMEs can manage these necessary changes.
“If the nation does not increase the minimum wage, thousands of our youths will turn to the gig economy to earn a living while our dependence on foreign workers will increase.
“Is this what Mohamed Azmin wants? What is the point of spending billions on government-led initiatives to create jobs, then?” he added.
Kula Segaran suggested that discussions about minimum wage should be with all stakeholders, not just SME owners, to understand the gravity of the situation.
He also urged the prime minister to intervene and bring the discussion before the Cabinet.