KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 12): The government has been urged to review the minimum salary increase which does not commensurate with the rising cost of living, especially for graduates.

Senator Dr Yaakob Sapari said the current salary increment rate was only between 100% and 150%, while the cost of living has increased from 400% to 600%.

“The 12MP (12th Malaysia Plan) still focuses on helping the poor and efforts to make Malaysia a high-income country but unfortunately, the country’s wage rate does not commensurate with these efforts.

“Just imagine, I was a university graduate in 1985; at that time, my friends who worked for the government received a (basic) salary of RM1,060 or RM1,200 including allowance. Now, (almost) 40 years later, university graduates are being paid below RM2,000, which means they are living below the poverty line,” he said during the 12MP debate session at the Dewan Negara here on Tuesday.

He said the low wage rate had led the country’s young people to migrate to other countries, in search of high-paying jobs.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, around 300,000 Malaysians crossed the Johor Causeway to work in Singapore because wages there were higher and the currency value was higher. That is why efforts to raise the minimum wage need to be reviewed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Datuk A. Kesavadas said job matching was a crucial element to ensure success in eradicating hardcore poverty and closing the income gap, which is the fifth focus of the 12MP.

He said many highly-educated young people still could not secure employment that commensurates with their academic qualifications or skills.

“If the government is really serious about developing the people’s economy for the next five years, expect the right job for the right man. This matter needs to be prioritised so that the quality of the economic sector in the country can be sustained, in line with the government’s intention to strengthen the Malaysian Family agenda,” he said.

In addition, Kesavadas said throughout the Covid-19 pandemic period, it was clear that those affected were from the B40 and M40 groups, as well as small traders.

The Dewan Negara sitting resumes on Wednesday (Oct 13).

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