April 10, 2023
SINGAPORE – Malaysian employers have been labelled as among the stingiest in South-east Asia for the wages they pay. But at least one boss in the country is going against that tide this Hari Raya.
Food entrepreneur and chef Khairul Aming, known for his Sambal Nyet brand that has amassed for him nearly seven million followers on Instagram and TikTok, posted a video on Friday showing him making a “special announcement” to employees at one of his two factories in Kelantan that he had shut for the day.
Some of the 60-odd workers present were visibly moved to tears as he gave them thick envelopes filled with a “special bonus”, which Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily estimated to each contain around RM3,000 (S$900) in wads of RM50 notes. He also dished out perks including new clothes to “celebrate” his staff.
“I really appreciate their hard work all this while, and hope to chip in a little for their livelihoods and Raya preparations,” Mr Khairul, 30, said in the video voice-over.
His workers were seen carrying shopping bags out of a clothing store where Mr Khairul said they had picked out new clothes and accessories for the coming Hari Raya. They were then treated to a poolside buffet dinner at a hotel, breaking fast together after their shopping spree.
Semalam kita tutup kedua-dua kilang sambal untuk meraikan staff. Kita bawa semua pergi shopping baju raya, berbuka puasa kat hotel dan bagi bonus untuk raya. InshaAllah lepas raya nanti kita pergi bercuti pulak hehe pic.twitter.com/JhZ6gztTqV
— Khairulaming (@khairulaming) April 7, 2023
The sambal tycoon also hinted that he would give his workers a holiday, so they would not burn out over the busy period.
After the video went viral on social media, many commented that he was a role model for employers in Malaysia – someone who looked out for his employees’ welfare. More than one commented that he was “Malaysia’s best boss”.
It is not the first time Mr Khairul has made headlines for his lavish “celebrating” of his staff. In October 2022, he booked at least 17 chalets at a resort in Malaysia for a two-day staff retreat, prompting many social media users to ask about vacancies at his company.
Sambal Nyet Berapi, Mr Khairul’s version of the fiery chilli sambal condiment that often accompanies many Malaysian dishes, has been gaining popularity steadily since it went on the market in early 2021.
He sold his millionth bottle in August 2022, earning him a tidy RM14 million and leading him to open his second factory to keep up with demand. Sambal Nyet Berapi is so popular that fake versions of it have reportedly popped up online.
Malaysia’s employers have been accused as being among the most stingy paymasters in the region, spending just 25 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product on wages, Malaysian trade union chief Abdul Halim Mansor told Utusan Malaysia in February 2022.
It paled in comparison to employers in neighbouring countries Singapore (40 per cent) and Indonesia (84 per cent), he said.
Malaysian workers will be hoping that sambal mogul Khairul’s example to the contrary will become a hot trend in the country.