Malaysia is one of Asia's biggest employers of foreign labour. But recently, cases of deaths, abuse and forced labour have come to light. What is going on? Who is protecting these migrant workers?
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has rejected a proposal by an Umno delegate at the party’s ongoing assembly for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to waive workers’ contributions to cope with the rising cost of living.
MTUC secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam said EPF was a retirement fund and even after saving for 30 years, many employees did not have sufficient funds to support their old age.
“EPF is a retirement fund and based on its own findings, the returns employees get after contributing for more than 25 or 30 years are insufficient. Therefore, we are strongly opposed to this,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.
He was referring to the proposal from Perak Umno delegate Datuk Wan Muhammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad, as reported in The Star, that wage earners should be given the option of stopping their monthly 11% contribution to the EPF to cope with higher cost of living.
The suggestion comes following the slump in the ringgit’s value against the US dollar, and increase in the price of basic goods, such as cooking oil as the government rationalises subsidies, as well as a hike in toll rates, rail transport and ahead of higher electricity tariffs next year for consumers in the peninsula.
Currently, wage earners contribute 11% to the EPF while their employers’ share is either 12% for those earning above RM5,000 each month or 13% for those earning RM5,000 and below.
Citing an example, Wan Khair-il told the Umno assembly yesterday that those earning RM2,300 monthly would only have a take-home pay of RM2,037.75 after deducting the 11%.
“But if his contribution to the fund is returned, it will give him an additional RM200 a month.
Perhaps the government can consider this proposal,” he said. Gopal said today the government should instead control price movements, as suggested by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin on Wednesday.
He added that Putrajaya should also ignore requests from public service providers to increase rates.
“The government should stop removing or reducing any kind of subsidy so that service providers will not use that as an opportunity to hike prices,” he added.
Three days ago, Khairy at the assembly called on the government and party leadership to stop further price hikes, just a day after Putrajaya said electricity rates would rise in 2016 following slashed rebates.
Khairy told Umno Youth delegates that people were burdened with rising cost of living and have reached their breaking point. “We understand the need for these measures.
But at the same time, when the people are laden with pressure from the rising cost of living, we can no longer stay silent,” said Khairy had said in his policy speech.
Last month, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said as many as 4.46 million or 67% of the EPF’s active contributors have not achieved the basic saving requirements.
He said an EPF member needed to have at least a minimum savings of RM820 per month for 20 years, which would come up to RM196,800 at the retirement age, but added that only 33% achieved this. – December 12, 2015.
Source: The Malaysian Insider
Address: Wisma MTUC,10-5, Jalan USJ 9/5T, 47620 Subang Jaya,Selangor | Tel: 03-80242953 | Fax: 03-80243225 | Email: email@example.com