Pink-collared workers and the family in modernizing Malaysia: a case study of the garment industry
The nexus between the family, women workers and the commercial imperatives of Malaysia's export-oriented textile and garment industries is a useful site in which to examine the relationship between family and industrialization in Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, the working-class family plays a pivotal role in the government's development agenda. Under the Malaysian government's modernization and development programme, Vision 2020, “Modern Malaysia” is geared towards high technology and skilled workers. The government boasts that “low cost labour is an advantage no longer enjoyed by prosperous Malaysia” in the textile and garment sectors, but this statement belies the country's continued reliance on the traditional garment industry and the women who work in it. This paper is based on official government documents such as the Seventh Malaysia Plan and the published works of Malaysia's Prime Minister, as well as personal communication with women workers in the garment and textile industry, trade union representatives in that industry and NGOs.