Saturday, November 30, 2013

Overpaying Selangor Executive and people's reps is wrong - when still so many real needs

Full time people's representatives - that is what the people wants. Now many of those elected are still spending a lot of time for their own existing employment, work and businesses, and this is not acceptable. Once elected as Members of Parliament(MPs), State Asemblypersons (ADUNs) or even appointed as Senators, these people's representatives should commit 100% of their time to their task of being the people's representatives (wakil rakyat). They should be attending all sessions of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat or Dewan Senat), and the State Legislative Assembly. The only justifiable absence mjust be because they are also in the State/Federal cabinets and some very urgent work in their respective ministry/department prevents them attending these sessions.

In Parliament or State Legislative Assemble, these reps represent the people, and should be there asking questions and serving as the necessary 'check and balance', and debating and approving/rejecting motions or new laws. They should be serving on select committees tasked with overseeing certain ministries/aspects of government activities. 

Outside these formal parliamentary/State Legislative Sessions, they must be in communication with their constituents soliciting viewpoints/ideas/etc - i.e. seeking directions of their constituents as to what their position should be, and how they should be representing the views of the people they represent in Parliament and/or State Legislative Assemblies.

Hence, they (the peoples' representatives) need to be paid a basic wage that is sufficient and fair - and the next question is what should this be? Noting that Malaysia's minimum wages is RM900 per month, and the average monthly household income in Malaysia is now RM5,000, and note this is household income not individual income. 
The 2012 Household Income Survey found the average monthly income of Malaysian households rising from RM4,025 in 2009 to RM5,000 in 2012, an increase of 7.2 per cent annually.In announcing the statistics here yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the urban household monthly income increased at a rate of 6.6 per cent a year from RM4,705 in 2009 to RM5,742 last year, while the rural household monthly income rose 6.4 per cent annually from RM2,545 to RM3,080 - The Borneo Post. 28/3/2013, Average monthly Malaysian household income hits RM5,000

Hence, logically the basic salary/wage (not including overtime, attendance allowance, transportation allowances, etc) should be about RM5,000-00.

The Selangor State Legislative Assembly had approved a salary hike for all of its 56 state assemblymen effective next year, with its deputy speaker getting the largest share of the pie of 373.3%. The menteri besar's salary would be increased from RM14,175.15 to RM29,250; state executive committee members, 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.- Malaysian Insider, 29/11/2013, Salary hike sparks war of words among Selangor assemblymen

Of course, MPs, Senators and ADUNs should also be entitled to overtime and all the other benefits, etc accorded to a normal worker. Now, I believe, there is also such thing as parliamentary/state legislative assembly attendance allowances....

The complain earlier was that MPs/State Assemblypersons had to use 'their own money' to rent/operate service centres and employ personal assistants/researchers/drivers, etc - but the solution is not to increase wages of MPs/ADUNs and Senators but to allocate funds for all these additional matters that is needed, and in Selangor this has happened...

Parts of the expenses such as hiring aides and renting service centre are funded by the state government. The allocation breakdown before adjustment is shown below:
  • Two aides' wages - RM1,500 per month each, without allowance and overtime claim;
  • One off payment for service centre renovation - RM20,000;
  • Service centre monthly rental - In accordance to the premises' going rate; and,
  • Service centre administration monthly allowance - RM2,000
According to state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah's assistant Hiew Kim Boon, the state government allocated RM10,000 for engaging at least three PAs after the May 5 general election. - Malaysiakini, 30/11/2013, Selangor pay rise storm rages on unabated
Well, we certainly need to increase the number of aides/researchers, and more importantly the allocation should be at least RM3,000-00 per person, including EPF, overtime, reimbursements for travel, etc, phone, and annual increment etc. 

Why researchers? Someone needs to research the Bills being tabled, and work out the arguments for and against these proposed amendments to law/policy, etc...The elected rep themselves may (1) not have the capacity, or (2) the time and energy required. The research may also include soliciting the viewpoints of the constituents. These political assistants should maybe be paid at least RM2,500 - RM4,000, i.e. including EPF, overtime, etc - and best that every rep has at least 2.

The other aides would be to assist the elected rep service constituents for logically, the elected rep may not have the time and assistance to deal with all their constituents...

How many aides and service centres? The number of aides should really be determined by number of constituents - maybe 1 aide for every 10,000 constituents. 

What about service centres? Well, this should be depending on the geography of the constituency - maybe one for every 50km, each needing at least 1/2 aides, 1 being ever present in the centre one to move around the constituency to investigate/respond to constituency issues.

Every MP/ADUN/Senator should also be paid transport allowances - or maybe they should be reimbursed depending on distance traveled (maybe RM1 per Km), toll paid, parking charges. Well, maybe they should also be paid monies to employ a driver - we do not want them to get tired stuck in traffic jams, finding parking spots, etc..This is fair. An allocation of RM2,000 for a driver or less depending on the salary (plus overtime)

Now SUHAKAM (National Human Rights Commissioners) monthly salary is RM6,000-00, with the Chairperson getting about RM7,000-00 - now, they should be paid more at least RM10,000-00.

With regard to ADUNs and MPs/Senators, they should be paid basic salaries of RM5,000-00, not including overtime and allowances.

But some will say that these "ADUNs/MPs/Senators" are expected to pay a lot more whenever they meet with their constituencies - food/drinks, donations for deaths/weddings/etc, ... NOW, this is a BN culture and is wrong. A ADUN/MP/Senator should not be required to pay for anything like this and there should be allocations for all these things by the government. "ADUNs/MPs/Senators" are not sources of 'donations' and 'gifts' - that is not their role or function. They are 'public servants' only - not some super 'rich people' obligated to hand out cash and constituents.
Should those who serve as MBs/PMs, Ministers and State Excos be paid even more than those that are mere ADUNs and MPs/Senators? I would say NO - but even if they are being paid more it should not be more than 10 - 15 % of what every other ADUNs and MPs/Senators are receiving as their basic salary?

Running a country is not like running a private sector business entity - and our 'employees', the people's representative is not meant to be earning so much more compared to the ordinary people - the constituents. In fact, a similar policy must be adopted for all government owned or 'government-linked' private sector entities - salaries of CEOs and directors must never be higher than salaries of MBs/PMs,State Exco/Cabinet members...

We want people that will serve the people to be chosen to be ADUNs, MPs and Senators - and 'very high pay' will only attract or result in the wrong people wooing such positions, Same applies for State Exco and Cabinet positions... No justification in paying those in State Exco and Cabinet positions more than other MPs/ADUNs/Senators? After all, at the end of the day it is the MB and PM that decides who they want in their 'cabinets' - and 'higher pay' should not be the reason for wanting these positions, and then will also undermine other elected peoples' reps. It may be different, if these exco/cabinet members are elected directly by the people, or even the Parliament/State Legislative Assembly...

Note, that the Selangor increment does not include all the other incentives... and this is too much..

Money could be better used to improve the quality of the State Legislative Assembly, and this is not through such 'extravagant' increases of basic pay of State Legislativepersons and the Exco of Selangor... Anwar suggests that they donate 20% of their wages - but that is not the way. 

In fact, let us look at the average income of an individual of Selangor, and the basic salary (not including overtime and other incentives) should be equal or less than that - not more remembering always that these are peoples' representatives... Wonder how much they will get with all their 'incentives'?

If Selangor has extra monies, set up an 'Unemployment Benefit Scheme' - that would assist people who have lost jobs and looking for employment.

Set up a 'Medical Assistance Fund' so that the poor and lower income would be able to access healthcare.

Set up a 'Warga Mas Fund' that would ensure that the many old folks that are not ex-government servants receiving monthly pension gets at least RM500-00 monthly to survive in this climate of ever-growing cost of living.

Maybe also ensure that every 'ketua kampung' or 'ketua taman' in Selangor gets a monthly allowance of at least RM500-00 especially since many of these people do quite a lot of work for their people with no remuneration - I am talking about those JKKK. In fact, use that money to set up local democracies that elect their own leaders at the kampung, kampung baru, kampung orang asli and taman levels.... 

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