Cel­e­brat­ing Malaysia’s work­ers

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing change and safe­guard­ing work­ers

New Straits Times - - News -

LABOUR is the in­dis­pens­able el­e­ment of any econ­omy, any­where, for as long as a fully au­to­mated world does not yet ex­ist. There­fore, the an­nual Labour Day cel­e­bra­tion — in Malaysia it is al­most uniquely so, ac­cord­ing to Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak in his Labour Day speech — is a very sig­nif­i­cant day. This year, as in pre­vi­ous years, the prime min­is­ter’s speech out­lines the lat­est in the in­evitable changes that must oc­cur and the govern­ment poli­cies in­tended to ac­com­mo­date them to en­sure the coun­try’s as­pi­ra­tions for a high-in­come econ­omy by 2020 re­main on track. Only then will the Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion 2050 plan en­vis­ag­ing as­pi­ra­tions post-2020 be re­al­is­able. The 2017 speech then draws at­ten­tion to the im­por­tance of ac­knowl­edg­ing the so-called Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion and the need for Malaysia to see it through suc­cess­fully.

The prime min­is­ter high­lighted the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum re­port which fore­cast the ad­vent of the re­sul­tant job dis­place­ment, in­crease in labour pro­duc­tiv­ity and an ev­er­widen­ing skills gap if the train­ing needs of labour are not prop­erly han­dled. To en­sure that the Malaysian labour force is not de­feated by this in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion, Pu­tra­jaya has em­braced the dig­i­tal econ­omy, which it iden­ti­fies as the in­dus­try of the fu­ture. And, suit­ably, the govern­ment is de­vel­op­ing young en­trepreneurs — eEn­trepreneurs — and small and medium en­ter­prises in this sec­tor. The Dig­i­tal Free Trade Zone has been launched to form the first dig­i­tal eco­nomic hub in the world. This is part of the em­pha­sis given to in­no­va­tion and pro­duc­tiv­ity as the two main cat­a­lysts for wealth gen­er­a­tion and to in­crease the tempo of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to en­sure Malaysia’s fu­ture com­pet­i­tive­ness. A pro­jected 60,000 new jobs are ex­pected, which are ca­pa­ble of con­tribut­ing 20 per cent to Malaysia’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. Fu­tures are planned for and the present is ef­fec­tively han­dled.

In Malaysia, co­op­er­a­tion has al­ways ex­isted be­tween trades unions, the em­ploy­ers’ fed­er­a­tion and the Barisan Na­sional govern­ment. Within this en­vi­ron­ment, the govern­ment is im­ple­ment­ing the Work­ers Trans­for­ma­tion Leap to usher in the high-in­come ad­vanced econ­omy, namely, pri­ori­tis­ing the wel­fare and pros­per­ity of work­ers and vul­ner­a­ble groups; op­ti­mis­ing hu­man cap­i­tal, strength­en­ing ba­sic salary and the wages sys­tem; en­abling an in­dus­try-spear­headed tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional train­ing; em­pow­er­ing job agen­cies for the pub­lic; and, broad­en­ing em­ploy­ment in­surance for pri­vate sec­tor labour. This last will en­sure a safety net for tem­po­rar­ily un­em­ployed work­ers. And, the self-em­ployed are also not for­got­ten. The Work Dis­as­ter Scheme for taxi driv­ers in­tro­duced in the 2017 Bud­get will be ex­panded into the Self-Em­ploy­ment So­cial Se­cu­rity Scheme.

The BN govern­ment, there­fore, even while urg­ing work­ers to pre­pare to be high-in­come work­ers of high pro­duc­tiv­ity, high val­ues, high think­ing and high skills, is mak­ing sure that their well­be­ing is safe­guarded. As the prime min­is­ter says the fu­ture is for the coun­try to deliver to­gether but the BN govern­ment will al­ways pro­tect and fight for their well­be­ing as he wished them “A Happy Work­ers Day”.

A pro­jected 60,000 new jobs are ex­pected, which are ca­pa­ble of con­tribut­ing 20 per cent to Malaysia’s GDP.

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