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Is it true our MPs and ministers are poorly paid?

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Without the public being given data on the full salaries and benefits of members of Parliament and ministers, we remain sceptical they are poorly paid, writes Sharp Observer.

There is a myth going around in the new government that members of Parliament and ministers are underpaid compared to their counterparts in the corporate world and government-linked companies.

The problem is, there is no meaningful data to compare. While there is always ready data for us to compare CEOs’ salaries, as this is a disclosure requirement for statutory accounts, as seen here, there is no comparable data for members of Parliament and ministers – merely anecdotal evidence that they are poorly paid.

Without the public being given data on the full salaries and benefits of members of Parliament and ministers, we remain sceptical they are poorly paid.

MPs get to keep their day jobs; so an MP’s salary is additional. Even a one-term MP gets a pension these days. For example, although the prime minister’s salary is low, the previous prime minister seemed to be getting three pays, as he himself admitted. He had apparently been receiving his MP’s salary, a pension from his position as former Pahang menteri besar apart from his salary as prime minister. Add to that all sort of allowances he may have received as chairman of this board and head of that council… On top of that, all the perks…

The current Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, should also be receiving two lots of ‘pay’, maybe even four. His previous pension from being an MP and prime minister and his current salary as MP and prime minister. As he said in a speech in Penang, for someone in his position as prime minister, everything is paid for; so his salary is mostly unused.

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As for CEOs (if they are also board members) and chairpersons of corporations, they are required to disclose their total remuneration package, which includes salaries, allowances, bonus, fees and benefits-in-kind. It is time for MPs and ministers to be required to disclose annually their total income package.

Then we can decide who is getting more, objectively, instead of through guess work.

Sharp Observer is the pseudonym of regular follower of Aliran.

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