KUALA LUMPUR — Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth on Tuesday urged the government to expedite the adoption of a minimum wage to support the objective to make Malaysia a high-income nation.

Khairy Jamaluddin

Its chairman, Khairy Jamaluddin, said it was hoped that a minimum wage would be set before the government introduced the New Economic Model (NEM) in October.

“There is no point in having a New Economic Model when an important aspect, that is the minimum wage, is not resolved and implemented by the government,” he told reporters after a meeting on the minimum wage with leaders of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs), here.

Khairy said studies had shown that 34 per cent of the 1.3 million workers in the country earned an average of RM700 per month, an income lower than the poverty line (of RM720 per month).

“Based on a study conducted by the World Bank, Malaysia has registered an average salary rise of 2.6 per cent annually in the last 10 years compared to the world average of 3.2 per cent.

“If we consider in terms of a minimum wage, it is generally known that 90 per cent of the countries of the world have introduced some sort of minimum wage,” he said.

Khairy said BN Youth, with the collaboration of MTUC and Cuepacs would organise a “Minimum Wage” forum soon and submit all resolutions to the government for immediate action.

“Currently, in many cases, wages do not reflect an income which can meet the cost of living, and we believe the issue has become more pressing.

“When salary does not rise in tandem with the cost of living or inflation, then eventually the people will become poorer and not earn a high income.

“It is with this realisation that BN Youth proposed the forum which the prime minister or deputy prime minister could open,” he said.