Tanjung Piai shows disconnect between PH and needy Malaysians, says MTUC

MTUC advises the government to focus on bread and butter issues such as the cost of living.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) today said the drop in support for the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition as seen in its recent defeat in Tanjung Piai is also reflective of workers’ sentiments nationwide.

The union said there had been disillusionment with government leaders who were “heavy on rhetoric but offered little in terms of deeds or substance”.

“Malaysian workers, particularly the B40 group, have come to regard the government as mostly passive on bread and butter issues such as low wages and the high cost of living.

“This is among the main reasons which led to a drop in support for the coalition,” said MTUC secretary-general J Solomon.

On Saturday, Barisan Nasional (BN) saw its biggest by-election win yet, trouncing PH in Tanjung Piai. MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng got 25,466 votes – more than half that of his closest rival from PH, PPBM’s Karmaine Sardini, who got 10,380 votes.

MTUC said its own experience with the PH government over the last 18 months had been “frustrating”.

Solomon said this included Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran’s move to amend labour laws by claiming the action was endorsed by MTUC.

“One of the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act gives anyone a free pass to set up as many unions as possible at a work place or in an industry, which will lead to infighting between competing unions and their members and create industrial disharmony,” he added.

He also said there was a “widening disconnect” between the government and low-wage workers.

He said the government would get support if it addressed bread and butter issues instead of being drawn into the politics of race and religion.

“By focusing on the economy of the people, PH will find sustained support from people of all walks of life and thus unshackle itself from the unproductive and destructive politics of some who want to keep playing the race and religion card.”