Malaysia’s regime of labour control and the attempted transition to a knowledge based economy : the problematic role of migrant labour

by Donna Turner

Malaysia’s regime of labour control has been shaped by its origins in the colonial era when Chinese and Indian workers were imported to develop the tin mines and rubber plantations. The British administration extended considerable power to employers in the management of the labour force, and the working class received little by way of welfare assistance during periods of economic fluctuations. Workers experienced high levels of income insecurity as wages fluctuated according to commodity prices. The regime of labour control relied heavily on physical coercion and repression and on the vulnerability of the labour force to repatriation.

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Source : Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, vol. 39, no. 2 (2005), pp 45-68.