KOTA KINABALU May 6, 2012: DAP Sabah welcomes the long overdue announcement of a minimum wage rate at RM900 for Peninsula Malaysia and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak by Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak on May 1 in conjunction with Labour Day celebration.
However, DAP Sabah is of the view that the minimum wage policy introduced by Najib cannot help Sabah, if higher living cost issue is not addressed.
First, the announcement seemed to be timed for election, said DAP Sabah publicity secretary Chan Foong Hin.
“Najib’s announcement on minimum wage seems to be just another pre-election populism announcement,” he said.
“Second, the announcement of RM800 in Sabah could affect employers. But what will the government offer to help?
“The average income in Peninsular Malaysia is RM1,371, Sarawak RM782 and Sabah RM577. It means that the minimumincome of RM900 would not have a great impact on enterprises in the peninsula, but an increment of RM200 in Sabah could affect employers,” Chan said.
Third, to be effective, minimum wage policy must not be implemented in isolation and in a piecemeal manner. Full liberalisation of cabotage policy must be addressed as well.
“It’s not about all the problems from income, but also from goods prices.
“In the face of low wages, higher prices means lower quality of lives. Currently, the prices of goods in Sabah/Sarawak are 20 to 30 percent higher than those in the peninsular thanks to National Cabotage Policy which stipulates that domestic shipping between Malaysian ports should be restricted to Malaysian-owned ships to protect the local shipping industry.
“This protectionist policy has led to excessive shipping costs by allowing shipping companies to act as a monopoly giving no room for fair competition within the industry to bring about fair prices. Shipping companies owners get rich at the expense of Sabahans and Sarawakians suffering with higher living cost.
“Finally, when will ‘Special Cabinet Committee on Cabotage Policy’ be set up as promised by Deputy Prime Minister?”
Chan said, on April 27 Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he would propose for a special cabinet committee to be formed to look into the cabotage policy and other issues related to the price disparity between Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
“The paper on cabotage policy will come back next week, which is rather timely.”
DAP Sabah would like to remind our most respected Deputy Prime Minister on the setting up of his suggested “special cabinet committee on cabotage policy”, since one week has gone but nothing has been announced.
“DAP Sabah regrets that long long time taken to address the long long time overdue price disparity issue among the peninsula and Sabah,” Chan said.