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Politicians up for election say that raising the earnings of workers at the bottom of the pay scale could kickstart a multiplier effect that reverberates across economies, but the chiefs of Southeast Asian industries are not so sure.   © Illustration by Hiroko Oshima
Asia Insight

Malaysia's 35% minimum wage hike stirs recovery concerns

Critics say politicians are promising happier paydays as an election ploy

P PREM KUMAR, Nikkei staff writer | Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR -- For more than a decade, Thangarani Karupiah had been making just 900 ringgit ($210) a month from her job sweeping and mopping floors at a private health care center near the capital. But since 2019, she has benefited from government rules on wage floors, and now pulls in 1,200 ringgit.

She is among 1.2 million Malaysians who will benefit again when the minimum wage goes to 1,500 ringgit next month, up from the current 1,100 ringgit or 1,200 ringgit in 57 major cities, according to the government. The new floors represent a windfall of 25% to 35% for the many workers who live paycheck to paycheck.

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