Who says Malaysians reluctant to get hands dirty? NGOs claim 600K cross the Causeway daily

Arumugam said many would be interested to work in the 3D industries if the Malaysian government reworked its economic model here to increase wages for such jobs. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Arumugam said many would be interested to work in the 3D industries if the Malaysian government reworked its economic model here to increase wages for such jobs. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Several non-governmental organisations challenged today Putrajaya’s assertion that Malaysians were not keen to work in dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) industries, claiming that 600,000 citizens were willing to become menial labourers in neighbouring Singapore where salaries were commensurate with the job scope.

Pertubuhan Rapat Malaysia President A Rajaretinam said it was wrong to think Malaysians would not take on such jobs here as the figures of people working in menial positions in the island republic proved otherwise.

"There are around 600,000 Malaysians working in Singapore everyday in 3D sectors. If they can do that in Singapore, why they can't do that here?

"We must understand the reality behind this. Even youths from Kelantan go all the way to Singapore to work there," he told a news conference here.

He was responding to the Malaysian Employers Federation statement to Malay Mail Online today which claimed that Malaysians shy away from 3D jobs because of social stigma.

At the same news conference, Coalition of Indian NGOs co-chairman K Arumugam said many would be interested to work in the 3D industries if the Malaysian government reworks its economic model here to increase wages for such jobs.

"We have an issue of how we plan our economic policy. We have [a] skewed policy where rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

"I'm willing to do the dirty jobs. Pay me well. Why should I wash people's backside for RM900, if you pay me well, I will even wash your backside," he said referring to the minimum wage amount.

The group also suggested the Barisan Nasional federal government learn from the Pakatan Harapan Penang state government and increase the minimum pay for 3D jobs, which they claimed showed more locals were interested.

"Look at Penang, they improved the salary There is no such thing that local people don't like to do 3D jobs.

"You give me the best, you expect the best. You give me shit, you expect me to work?" Rajaretinam asked.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had on Sunday urged local youths to take over the 3D jobs to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign workers, who are seen as dominating the plantation, manufacturing, construction, and cleaning service sectors.

He was addressing concerns raised over Putrajaya’s planned intake of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers.

Ahmad Zahid’s call was later echoed by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who also claimed that youths here were disinterested in those sectors, resulting in employers turning towards foreign workers.