Posted: 28 Nov 2013 08:59 AM PST
'AUDACIOUS': It's taxpayers' money, PKR No. 2 tells Selangor menteri besar
THE usual suspects in the Selangor political saga were tossing criticisms at each other yesterday over the audacious pay hike for the menteri besar, executive councillors, speaker, deputy speaker and assemblymen.
The Selangor legislative assembly had, on Wednesday, approved pay cheque increases of 106 per cent for Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, 373 per cent for the speaker, deputy speaker (268 per cent), state assemblymen (87.5 per cent) and exco members (231 per cent).
Azmin Ali, who is PKR deputy president and chief tormentor of Khalid, pounced on the statewide backlash to pile the pressure on the menteri besar.
"It is the taxpayers' money, He (Khalid) owes them an explanation," he said at the Parliament lobby.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is the Selangor economic adviser as well as the defacto leader of PKR, too, was left ruing the hike.
"I think the menteri besar should reconsider the hike.
"I was told that the increase is a bit high and he has to explain to Pakatan," Anwar said.
He went on to suggest the increases were indeed "too high".
Khalid directed this displeasure at Azmin, telling the younger man, who, as assemblyman, would be getting a pay rise, to either take the new salary or donate it.
"That's his (Azmin) right to object. Some can take it or leave it or donate part or the entire amount to charity.
"This is applicable to all.
"Anyone who is not happy with the new salary adjustment can choose to not take their salaries," Khalidsaid at the Dewan Negeri Selangor lobby.
He said the increment was considered "low and reasonable".
Selangor Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Noh Omar summed up the party's stance.
He said when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had earlier hinted at the possibility of an increase in parliamentarians' allowance, Pakatan members of parliament had rejected the proposal, saying that representatives should consider the people as it was taxpayers' money.
"Pakatan claims that their main agenda is to fight for the people... the same MP who opposed the pay hike proposal in Parliament is also a member of the Selangor state assembly.
"I do not see the same individual opposing the move in the state assembly."
Political punditry was actively analysing the latest twist given the traditional Khalid-Azmin feud. Khalid had long been replaced by Azmin as the state party chief.
Despite being a PKR assemblyman, Khalid is reportedly propped up largely by the 30 assemblymen from Pas and DAP.
Political analyst, Associate Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, tracked Anwar's latest political attitude, culminating in his public criticism of Khalid.
"Perhaps, Anwar is tapping into this issue to test the water at the grassroots level," Sivamurugan of Universiti Sains Malaysia said.
Sivamurugan said the unprecedented salary hike might have a negative impact on the legitimacy of the state government since the matter was opposed by Pakatan leaders and supporters.
Last Sunday, during PKR's special national congress, Anwar, in jest, had criticised Khalid after he alleged the latter was slow in taking action on his advice.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) political and international studies senior lecturer Md Shukri Shuib questioned why Anwar did not object to the increment earlier since he is the Selangor economic adviser.
"He (Anwar) has been telling people that he was appointed economic adviser for Selangor.
"Anwar should have advised the menteri besar not to go ahead with the salary increment."
He said there was this growing conflict between Khalid and Anwar, who is in favour of Azmin.
Another political analyst, Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam, said Anwar's outburst over the matter was a way for PKR to hide it weaknesses.
"DAP is administering Penang while Pas is the state government for Kelantan.
"Selangor is supposed to be the role model for PKR but they blew it with the salary hike," she said.
Posted: 28 Nov 2013 08:28 AM PST
The Malaysian Insider
When lawmakers vote to reward themselves with more pay, what message does that give to the electorate, especially when the state government has been frugal with money in the past five years?
Malaysia's wealthiest state, Selangor, has been subsisting on bare essentials as its Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has been tight with money since taking power in Election 2008. His economic style returned him to power with a bigger majority in the May 5 general election this year.
To the electorate and his own PKR party's surprise, the state chief executive known for his parsimonious ways decided to increase wages for himself, his executive councillors, state speaker, deputy speaker and assemblymen this week.
The Selangor State Legislative Assembly had approved a salary hike for all 56 state assemblymen effective next year, with its deputy speaker getting the highest percentage of 373.3%.
The menteri besar's salary would be increased from RM14,175.15 to RM29,250; state executive committee, from RM6,109.29 to RM20,250; speaker, from RM6,109.29 to RM22,500; deputy speaker, from RM3,327.50 to RM15,750; and state assemblymen from RM6,000 to RM11,250. There are 44 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers to 12 from Barisan Nasional (BN).
Khalid's move to reward assemblymen is not the first in the country this year. Sarawak decided to triple the pay of its assemblymen earlier this year, making the wages higher than that of federal lawmakers.
Over in Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew years ago went ahead and gave his ministers million-dollar salaries. His justification was that only top drawer salaries could draw top talent into politics and keep corruption at bay.
Decades later, the ruling PAP government is still on the back foot on this salary issue, so much so that current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lee's son, had to slash salaries after the last polls.
The simple fact is that no one will begrudge politicians a reasonable increase but not a huge jump especially when they still expect their elected representatives to be serving for reasons other than monetary gain.
Especially if they belong to the opposition, which has long campaigned for fiscal and financial responsibility.
Khalid should remember that many people in his state are struggling under a mountain of household debt and are lucky if they get a 10% salary hike a year, which is way below that of the Selangor assemblymen.
After all, the state's last wage adjustment for the lawmakers was just in 2011. While voters in Selangor put them back in power, PR should realise that the salary adjustment could just trip the coalition better than BN could have done.
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