JOHOR BARU: Johor needs higher-quality investments that can generate better-paying jobs for Malaysians, says state Opposition leader Liew Chin Tong.
The Perling assemblyman said it was imperative for policymakers, employers and employees alike to recognise that current conditions for workers in Johor are not conducive to the economy and, more crucially, the wellbeing of Johoreans.
“Many locals work in Singapore because wages in the state and other parts of Malaysia are too low, made worse by the huge difference in currency exchange.
“The state government should place good jobs with decent pay at the centre of all its economic activities,” he said in his Labour Day message posted on Facebook on Sunday (May 1), adding that the state government should draw up a roadmap to achieve this over the next five to 10 years.
Liew, who is also Johor DAP chairman, added that investments in the state should be evaluated on the basis of their ability to generate quality jobs with good pay.
He said Johor needed investments that matched the qualifications of young Malaysians, many of whom have received some form of skilled training, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) or tertiary education.
“In Johor, good jobs with decent pay mean providing at least two-thirds of Singapore’s salary. This means if a semi-skilled Malaysian worker is paid SGD$2,000 (about RM6,300) a month, he or she would most likely be happy to remain in Johor if Malaysian employers paid between RM3,000 and RM4,000.
“The gap in income is filled with better quality of life and more time spent with their families at home.
“To reach such a level of pay for semi-skilled jobs, policies need to be geared towards technological upgrade, automation and (Industry 4.0),” he added.
Liew also said this would reduce dependence on manual work, especially unskilled foreign labour, and eventually bring better remuneration for all workers.
He added that such a major structural shift and upgrade in wages across the Johorean and Malaysian economies would not happen overnight, and may take five to 10 years to materialise.
Therefore, he recommended that the new Johor state government formulate a five-year roadmap to create good jobs with decent pay.
“The Opposition is prepared to contribute ideas to ensure the success of (such a) plan,” he said.