Celebrating Malaysia’s workers
Accommodating change and safeguarding workers
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.