DAP invites MIC general assembly on Saturday to take a common stand to demand a minimum living monthly salary of at least RM750 instead of RM350 together with permanent housing scheme for rubber estate workers
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The MIC annual general assembly on Saturday should not forget its roots and should pass a special resolution demanding a minimum living monthly salary of at least RM750 instead of RM350 for rubber estate workers concluded on April 22 between the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW) and the Malaysian Agricultural Producers Association (Mapa) for some 58,000 rubber estate workers.
The monthly minimum wage of RM350 for rubber estate workers is a poor and miserable excuse for a salary in 21st-century Malaysia when the government had defined the poverty line as RM1,200 a month per household in the Third Outline Perspective Plan 2001-2010 – and this was three years ago!
It is also well below the RM750 minimum monthly wage and a permanent housing scheme which DAP MPs had demanded for rubber estate workers in the Malaysian Parliament to commemorate the 1999 May Day, after over a thousand estate workers and their representatives from all over the country thronged Parliament House with their memorandum on their long-standing grievances as the most marginalized and exploited segment of the Malaysian population – presenting their legitimate demands for a fair and just minimum monthly wage and better housing.
In April 2002, MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu described as “ridiculous” and unacceptable Mapa’s offer of RM325 as minimum monthly wage for estate workers, saying “The rate is unreasonable…even car washers get better pay these days”.
It is most shocking that in the more than two weeks since the so-called “historic deal” on guaranteed monthly wage for workers in the rubber estates, there had been total acquiescence by the MIC leaders for the miserable excuse of a salary of RM350 a month, which is insufficient for one person, let alone an entire family, and not even enough to pay for food, infant formula, clothing, medicine or bus tickets!
Three important MIC meetings had been held during this period, the MIC Federal Territory convention, the MIC Wanita and Youth Assemblies, but no single MIC leader had spoken up against the miserable excuse for a minimum wage as if the MIC had totally forgotten the plight of the estate workers, having only time to jockey for electoral seats and candidatures for the next general election.
MIC should not forget its roots and turn its back on the estate workers, whose blood, sweat and tears for generations have created the prosperity of present-day Malaysia. DAP invites the MIC general assembly on Saturday to take a common stand for a fair and just deal and demand a minimum living monthly salary of at least RM750 instead of RM350 together with permanent housing scheme for rubber estate workers.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman