After the small increase of the minimum wages drew flak from the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and Pakatan lawmakers, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad spoke up to defend the small RM50 increase, The Star reported.
Speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting with the Pakatan Harapan leadership council on Friday (7 September), he explained that the government could not afford to further increase expenditure as it was servicing debts with high interest.
He said: "Some believe that the minimum wage should be set between RM1,500 and RM1,800. However, we are currently in a difficult time and most of our money is used to service huge debt."
Dr Mahathir added that Malaysia will also stand to lose its competitive edge among other countries in the region, if the minimum wages was increase too high.
"We also have to remember we are competing with other countries, and if the cost is too high, we might lose our competitive edge," he said.
On Wednesday (5 September), the Prime Minister's Office had announced a uniformed minimum wage of RM1,050 per month or RM5.05 per hour beginning 1 January 2019, adding that the decision was made following recommendations by the National Wage Consultative Council.
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