In this chapter, Lee Hwok-Aun and Kevin Zhang of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute review Malaysia’s labour standards, detailing its transition out of a low-wage regime through the long-awaited introduction of a minimum wage in 2013. This represented a significant step towards achieving decent work in the country. But the effects of Covid-19 have been drastic, wiping out at least a few years of wage growth for low-wage workers, while exposing the country’s pervasive low-wage issues and inadequate labour institutions. The authors argue that minimum wage while safeguarding the well-being of low-wage workers, has its limits. The authors critically consider the issue of a living wage as a concept that aligns more closely to the ideals of “decent work”. Policy solutions thus require a focus on unemployment assistance and job protection, wage growth and improving work and living conditions for all workers, including migrants. 

By Lee Hwok-Aun &Kevin Zhang of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

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