Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced plans today for the first minimum wage for private-sector employees.
In a televised speech, Mr Najib said the minimum monthly pay would be 900 ringgit (£185) for private-sector workers in peninsular Malaysia and 800 ringgit (£160) in the poorer eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak.
It will not include domestic workers such as maids and gardeners, he said.
The opposition Socialist Party held a peaceful rally in central Kuala Lumpur demanding a higher minimum wage and labelling the scheme as a "satire for the election" expected in the next few months.
With some employers given up to a year to comply, it warned that the government may delay implementation or reverse the policy after polls.
The party said the scheme was also discriminatory against those in Sabah and Sarawak where poverty was higher and could widen income disparity between peninsular and east Malaysia.