A Small But Significant Insight Into The Malaysian Labour Scene

Posted on January 27, 2007

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Yesterday, we posted an article titled ‘Mandarin-speaking Shop Assistants: Is This Racial Discrimination?’ where we questioned the validity of modern, culturally-neutral fashion outlets demanding Chinese-speaking shop assistants, amidst an urban, contemporary Malaysian society where most, if not all Malaysians, are assumed to be able to speak at least conversational Malay or English. We were surprised, and very much delighted, at the deluge of comments posted by visitors. Kampunghouse adopts a zero-censorship policy, and our faith in absolute freedom of speech (at least within the confines of this website) has been vindicated by the diverse and thought-provoking contributions by our readers. Although all of the comments deserve mention, we would like to devote special attention to comments left by one Dorjee, who has enlightened us with first-hand experience of the sometimes tough and unjust labour conditions in Malaysia.

Although it is a diversion from our original topic, Dorjee has brought up the contentious issue* of employees being denied overtime pay by exploitative employers. We view this as a serious abuse of power which not only calls for an overhaul of labour regulations, but also demands a thorough review of what constitutes ethical and exemplary work culture, and the shift in traditional mentality that this entails. Currently, the kampunghouse team does not have enough experience in the Malaysian labour environment to rationally discuss this matter. We welcome contributions from readers who, like Dorjee, could enlighten us on this issue. In the meantime, we recommend you evaluate the comments posted in the previous article.

*Dorjee also brought up the even more contentious issue of Bumiputra quota allocations and other such policies designed to assist Bumiputras. We recognise that this is an extremely complicated issue, one which encompasses many different points, which often contradict one another. There have been numerous articles regarding this topic, many often emotional and one-sided, which we acknowledge does assist in identifying the problems. However, we would prefer to confront this topic in a holistic, considered and educated manner, and at this point in time we are unable to do so.

Posted in: Labour Issues