Fatter paycheque for top officials sparks anger in civil service
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 — A proposed heftier pay rise for top government officials compared to the rest under the Public Service Remuneration Scheme (SBPA) has ignited anger and disapproval in the 1.4 million civil service — a key vote bank for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
Under the new salary scheme, top-ranking government servants will be paid as much as RM80,000 a month while some drivers get just a RM1.70 increase in monthly wages, earning both the attention and ire of unionists and the opposition.
Their anger, ahead of a general election expected this year, has led to a red-faced Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak ordering a review of the new pay scheme after protests from Cuepacs, the umbrella labour centre for government servants. It is learnt the new pay scheme was drawn up without Cuepacs’ involvement.
The Malaysian Insider understands that under the SBPA, 36 top-tier civil servants in the “Premier Service” category will earn a basic of RM36,000 per month. The Attorney-General will now earn RM80,000 while the Chief Secretary to the Government will get RM60,000 a month.
Cuepacs deputy president (I) Azih Muda confirmed the information with The Malaysian Insider, saying that the details were stated as such on the official government circular.
“Yes, yes, it is like that, like what is stated in the circular... the basic pay for those in the Premier Service category is RM36,000,” he said.
But Azih declined to comment on what he thought of the sharp contrast between differing levels of the civil service, and instead pointed out that the government had already announced a task force to study the SBPA.
The government announced last Friday a taskforce to review the SBPA from now till April 16, to be headed by former director-general of Public Service Tan Sri Ismail Adam, and will include representation from the Public Service Department, Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Finance Ministry and Cuepacs.
“I would prefer not to comment on it, the government has already formed a task force to look into the matter... Its implementation has been postponed, so I believe the government will look into it,” said Azih.
But he also confirmed that the task force would specifically look into the pay rise of top civil servants in the Premier Service category, saying that all pay grades within the service would be looked at and scrutinised.
“They will look into everything,” he said before ending the telephone interview.
Cuepacs had previously demanded the government delay the implementation of the new pay scheme, after complaining they were not consulted on the matter.
PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar first claimed an unfair income disparity among different portions of the civil service, with higher ranking officials set to rake in five-figure monthly salaries, while lower level members of the service earning only pittance.
Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers also accused Putrajaya of “bulldozing” the scheme through, and criticised it for being vague and failing to confer with stakeholders adequately.
“The figures you are telling me, I know... those in the Premier Service get between RM36,000-RM60,000.
“I mean, does it seem fair to you that the KSN (Chief Secretary) earns RM60,000 a month while a desk clerk gets less than a RM100 pay increase?” Mahfuz said when asked by The Malaysian Insider for his views on the matter.
The Pokok Sena MP said that PAS will continue to demand that the government review of the payment scheme result in a “fairer” pay rise of all civil service pay grades.
“Everything has to be reviewed... it has to be improved so that the kumpulan sokongan (support group category) within the service gets a better deal.
“Besides that, payment of those in the army also needs to be looked at... they do not have a union,” he said.
The 2012 Budget allocated RM64.1 billion for the wages and pensions of government employees or 28 per cent of the entire Budget, up from RM36.9 billion five years ago.