APEC Should Establish a Minimum Wage – MITI

APEC Should Establish a Minimum Wage – MITI

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) should collectively establish a standard wage to prevent inappropriate wage rates that affect women, said Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Liew Chin Tong.

He emphasized the importance of recognizing that increasing women’s participation in the workforce is a global positive force.

“Globally, more women in the workforce is crucial for ensuring higher combined family incomes, leading to increased domestic consumption in our societies.

“To facilitate greater female workforce participation, we need a robust economy. This requires stronger social conditions such as childcare and elder care, which will enhance our service sector and contribute to a more resilient society overall,” he said.

Liew made this statement at the Joint Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Women and Trade in Arequipa, Peru, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) on Saturday.

He highlighted that Malaysia serves as a global example despite inconsistencies in female labor force participation.

The female labor participation rate (FLPR) in Malaysia stands at 56 percent compared to 82.9 percent for men, lower than most other Southeast Asian countries.

However, Malaysia has notable successes, with 58 percent of working women employed in the public sector.

“In decision-making roles within the public service (Jusa C and above), 42 percent are women, a very high number among developing countries,” he said.

He mentioned that starting from 2023, Malaysia mandated that 30 percent of public-listed company board members must be women, with a high compliance rate.

“Thus, at decision-making levels in business and government, women are making significant progress. However, the overall female labor participation rate remains low,” he said.

Liew attributed this discrepancy to Malaysia’s long-term reliance on unskilled and low-wage foreign labor over the past 25 years, leading to inappropriate wages and a lack of interest in hiring women.

There is also insufficient public provision for childcare, elder care, and other infrastructure to support female workforce participation.

As Malaysia’s economy moves up the value chain, he said more skilled workers will be needed, and higher wages will attract more women into the formal workforce.
“A tight labor market also encourages employers to pay more attention to making it more attractive for women to join the workforce,” he said.


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