Service first advice: Government leaders should set a good example

Media Statement
by Kerk Kim Hock

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his parting advice, has asked the nations’ 900,000 civil servants not to keep demanding higher salaries, saying that this would make the country poor and raise the cost of living. 

Nobody will disagree that unreasonable and unrealistic wage increase will bring negative impact to the nation and the people. However, in asking the civil servants to think of service first, the government leaders them selves should set a good example.


In 2001, I had asked the government to explain why the Cabinet had decided to increase huge amount of perks for members of the government Administration in a non-transparent manner, without any public announcement. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr Rais Yatim chose not to provide any answer though I had raised the issue in the Parliament.


I then tried to pursue the issue by submitting an oral parliamentary question scheduled for reply on 28.3.2002. The shock came when the government reply was that the House Speaker had agreed that such a question need not be answered under Parliamentary Standing Order 23 (4).


It was simply absurd that an elected Member of Parliament should be denied the right to details of fixed allowances enjoyed by members of the government Administration on the ground of public interest. I made my protest against such abuse of Parliamentary Standing Order and subsequently put in another oral question.


After dodging the issue for more than six months, the government finally admitted in a parliamentary reply to me on 19.6.2002 that the Cabinet had, as reveled by me in 2001, adjusted fixed monthly allowances of the members of the government Administration. The Cabinet decision was made on 2.5.2001 and the adjustment was backdated to take effect on 1.1.2001.


Effective 1.1.2002 onwards, members of the government Administration would enjoy the following increase in their monthly entertainment allowance.


Prime Minister: RM 10,768

Deputy Prime Minister: RM 8,215

Minister: RM 6,720

Deputy Minister: RM 3,200

Parliamentary Secretary: RM 2,450

Political Secretary: RM 2,050


The Cabinet also decided that each member of the Cabinet would enjoy a new perk in the form of a fixed monthly allowance called  “ Cabinet Member Allowance”. Beginning 1.1.2002, such monthly allowance paid to the Prime Minister is RM 8,500, the Deputy Prime Minister RM 6,700 and each Minister RM 4,000.


Until today, the government has not satisfactorily answered two main points raised by the Opposition:


  1. Why was the Cabinet decision to increase the perks of the members of the government Administration done in such a non-transparent manner?
  2. Why should members of the Cabinet enjoy the new perk of “ Cabinet Member Allowance” when they are already drawing monthly salaries as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister?


* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka