Lop-sided and inequitable $600 million pay increases for public servants

(Speech by the Parliamentary Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the 1979 and 1980 Supplementary Supply and Development Estimates on June 12, 1980)

We are asked to approve another batch of supplementary estimates for 1979 and 1980 for supply and development purposes:

1. 1979 Second supplementary supply estimates $619,682,705
2. 1979 Fourth Supplementary Development estimates $ 82,178,795
3. 1980 first supplementary supply estimates $272,208,456
4. 1980 first supplementary development estimates $404,391,422

making a total being requested $1,378,461,378.

This is a pretty big sum of money being requested as supplementary expenditures. If we look at the 1979 supply estimates represent 20% of the original estimates. This makes nonsense of proper budget planning and forecasting of the national requirements.

The request for $272 million to supplement the 1980 supply estimates does not include the recent pay increases for the 750,000 public employees, which from initial estimates, would add another walloping $600 million to the annual government wage bill. Nor does the supplementary estimates include the reported 100% increase of allowances for elected officials whether national or state, such as Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Members of Parliament, State Ministers and State Assemblymen.

I want the Finance Minister to explain to this House why the present batch of supplementary requests do not include such big increases; and even more important, why the top government servants get such great disproportionate increases as compared to the medium and lower categories of government employees.

We are living in very inflationary times, and the Government, instead of being in the forefront of the fight to combat inflation, appears to be promoting an ‘inflation psychology’ among the people – which will further inflame prices and reduce the purchasing power of the ringgit, and any pay increases will be eaten away by price increases.

While the Government is growing by leaps and bounds, both in terms of government salaries and other government expenditures, such increases in the burdens of the taxpayer have not been accompanied by a similar increase in efficiency, competence and courtesy of the civil service in its dealing with the public.

If recent events are of any guide, it would appear that there has been steady deterioration in courtesy and standards of public service to the public.

Whenever there is gross inefficiency, there is also gross discourtesy. A good example is the long-standing grievances of the people in Petaling Jaya and certain areas of Kuala Lumpur over the water supply, with the constant disruption of water supplies. The favourite reasons given by the authorities concerned is that there is no rain, or rain fell in the wrong place.

Surely, this is not good enough as an explanation for the prolonged agonies suffered by housewives, school children and residents to re-order their lives according to the whims and fancies of the water tap, and the water authorities.

If there is to be water rationing, then there must be an efficient and fair system of rationing. All residents must know from what time to what time water will be cut off, and when water will be re-supplied. More often then not, the residents in PJ and KL find that water does not come back despite the end of the rationing hours, or water cut off without pre-announcements or reasons given.

And, what is a common complaint, in areas where VIPs like Ministers and other big shots stay, water supplies are never cut off, benefitting the lucky neighbours! Ministers and big shots should be the first to have their water supplies cut off for them to understand the agonies of the residents.

When I and my colleague, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, wanted to see the Selangor Waterworks Director, Chin Litt Siang, on these problems, the Director refused to meet us on the ground of a ruling from the Prime Minister’s Department that civil servants are not obliged to meet MPs over complaints from the public, as reported in the Malay Mail yesterday. This was announced by no less a person than the public relations officer of the Prime Minister’s Department, Encik Ahmad Iqbal.

This is most shocking, Mr. Chin Litt Siang, Encik Ahmad Iqbal, are all going to get huge increases in salaries at public expense, and when the public ask for efficient service which is their right as taxpayers, they are told that they are not answerable to the public. This probably explains the widespread complaint that when members of public ring up the Waterworks department, either the phone had been disconnected, or they are answered rudely.

I say that the people of PJ and KL have suffered enough from the incompetent, inefficient and discourteous service of the Selangor Waterworks Department. They have suffered long enough. As the Selangor Waterworks Department have shown such disregard of of basic public rights to a competence utility service which they had regularly paid for, not only in general taxes, but for specific utility, I call on the housewives and residents of PJ and KL, to gather in their thousands to the Selangor Waterworks Dept. in Jalan Pantai Baru opposite the Taylor’s College on Monday, June 16, 1980 at 10 a.m. to demand an explanation and satisfaction from the Waterworks authority to their long-standing grievances about the atrocious water supply service.

I will be there on Monday at 10 a.m. and Sdr. Lee Lam Thye will be there, to demand that the public grievances on water supply be ended. It is not for the Director of Waterworks Dept. to explain to us – but to explain to the long-grieving long-suffering ratepayers of PJ and KL.

I am not going to ask for appointment to see the Director of Selangor Waterworks anymore. If he wants to see me, he can make an appointment with my Parliamentary office.

Let the Selangor Waterworks Director explain to the residents of PJ and KL on Monday. Or let the Mentri Besar or the whole Selangor Exco explain to the ratepayers on Monday. If Mr. Chin can’t do so, they he should get out and resign. The same applies to the Mentri Besar and the Exco.

The people have suffered enough in the hands of tin-pot dictators who forget that they are servants of the people, and not their masters. If the officials and government servants are incapable of changing their attitudes of inefficiency, incompetence and discourtesy, then let the people change it for them.

Call on NBI and the Prime Minister to take action against the Sabah State Government for corrupt practices in the ABC Land Distribution Scheme

It is no use approving increases for government salaries and other expenditures, if there is waste, extravagance and corruption.

Although the NBI has now been transferred back to the Prime Minister’s Department, it is evident that the NBI has not gained much power of independent action against the corrupt in high political places.

Yesterday, the Deputy Law Minister, Datuk Abdullah Abdul Rahman, in reply to my question as to what action the NBI had taken in connection with the Berjaya State Government of Sabah’s ABC land distribution scheme where 800,000 acres of timber concessions were distributed to three categories of Berjaya party officials where those in the A category get 1,500 acres, B categories 1,000 acres and C categories 500 acres each, said that neither he nor the NBI knew anything about this ABC scheme.

The ABC Scheme of Berjaya State Government of Sabah distributing 800,000 acres to their party officials is not only an open knowledge, but has been repeatedly defended by Berjaya leaders in Sabah and even in this House – when I attacked it at the end of 1978.

But the NBI and the Government do not know anything about it. How much credulity does the government thinks it is getting by hiding its head in the sand like ostriches when corrupt practices are rampant and widely-known. Let me state here and how that this ABC system of the Berjaya State Government is clearly corrupt practice which should be dealt with by the NBI, if the NBI is to be a anti-corruption agency and not cover-corruption agency.

No amount of explanation by the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Harris Salleh, or his subordinates could turn what is a corrupt practice into a clean practice, and the NBI will itself be condemned as failing in its duty, so long as it closes it eyes to such blatant corrupt practices.

I call on the NBI and the Prime Minister to take action against the Berjaya State Government for corrupt practices, in the ABC land distribution scheme for Berjaya party officials, and to stop aiding and abetting such corrupt practices.