Why Malaysians will do 3D jobs overseas but not at home

PETALING JAYA: Many Malaysians are willing to take on dirty, dangerous and difficult (3D) jobs in other countries despite the social stigma as the higher pay they receive there is seen as adequate compensation, says Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran.

In a recent statement in the Dewan Rakyat, Kulasegaran said most Malaysians, especially the youth, were reluctant to do 3D jobs here because wages were low.

He said many might be willing to work such jobs if they were paid more, citing countries such as Singapore and Australia where wages are higher and incentives better.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general J Solomon agreed that wages were an essential factor in attracting workers to any sector.

He said the meagre wages paid to workers in Malaysia coupled with the wide income gap had forced many to seek greener pastures outside the country.

In Singapore and Australia, he said, Malaysians still received lower wages than locals for 3D jobs. They were also subject to discrimination and exploitation by some employers.

“In reality, the greener pastures are not truly green since they still work unskilled jobs, but they have the consolation of receiving higher wages than they would in Malaysia,” he said, adding that workers’ salaries could be up to five times more than they would have received here.

Solomon said the majority of Malaysians were in fact willing to work hard, voicing frustration that their wages were often not commensurate with their labour.

He warned that productive workers would eventually become unproductive if the situation continued.

Even graduates working skilled jobs were often exploited and poorly remunerated, he said, citing a recent report received by MTUC on the death of two young graduates who were allegedly forced to work until the early hours of the morning over a period of weeks.

Solomon previously said all sections of the population needed to play a role in ensuring that Malaysian workers are productively employed in the country, especially in unskilled jobs.

He told FMT that the government should take action against employers who exploited their workers.

“Substantial penalties should be imposed,” he said. “The minister has correctly said that Malaysian workers who are employed abroad in unskilled jobs will return if they receive a higher wage.”

He also urged the government to appoint Industrial Court heads who would grant awards based on the merit of cases with good conscience and equity.