DAP welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, that he and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, are studying the possibility of reducing the salaries and allowances of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries

by Parliamentary Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 30th Nov. 1981:

DAP welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, that he and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, are studying the possibility of reducing the salaries and allowances of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

There have been great secrecy about the various allowances drawn by the Minister, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, and even the Prime Minister himself had been evading in the current Parliamentary meeting from giving the full details.

For instance, I had put down an oral question on the very first day of the current budget meeting on Oct.12 to elicit more specific information on the various Minister allowances and perks, and the burden on the public exchequer.

My question on Oct. 12 was :

“To ask the Prime Minister to state the allowances and the other perks a Minister is entitled to when he or she is overseas on leave; whether such entitlements extend to the family of the Minister; and the total amount of public money involved in meeting the vacation overseas of all Ministers and their families for 1980 and for the first nine months of 1981.

This question was not answered during the question time on Oct. 12, for it was placed at the very bottom of the question on that day.

Normally, even if Dr. Mahathir did not answer the question because the question hour was up, his answer would be available in written form. But this was not the case!

I had asked this question because I understand that Ministers and families are entitled to many allowances and perks while overseas on holiday, including such allowances as a $200 daily tips allowance. Such a king allowance of $200 a day is clearly unjustifiable when we consider that a few million Malaysians are trying to survive on less than $200 a month per household.

Again, on 30th Oct. 1981, the DAP MP for Menglembu, Sdr. P.Patto, had a question on the same subject when he asked the Prime Minister “to state the allowances and facilities besides the salary and the allowances as indicated in the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980 for the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.”

Dr. Mahathir gave the various allowances and the perks which Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries are entitled to, like Ministers are provided with official houses, servants, official cars, drivers, crockery, free water and electricity, entertainment and appointment allowances, an annual allowance for furniture and an allowance for furnishing and for official ceremonial dress. Dr. Mahathir said Ministers were also given allowances to entertain visitors, their expenses for overseas leave and vacation leave were met, payment of tips while working overseas reimbursed, and they got official travel expenses for their wives or husbands.

However, when asked by Sdr. Patto to give the actual amount of the respective Ministerial allowances and perks, Dr. Mahathir evaded the question and asking for prior notice.

It is evident that although Dr. Mahathir was evading the DAP question to get the Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries to account to the public for their various allowance and perks, he had been made uncomfortable and uneasy by such DAP questions. Furthermore, Dr. Mahathir could evade and delay answering the DAP questions once, but not every time!

The DAP will support not only any reduction in the salaries and allowances of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, but also in the allowances of members of Parliament, State Assemblymen, State Executive Councillors, Mentri-Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers.

The provision that an MP or State Assemblymen is entitled to pension, after three years of service, is also unjustifiable, when we consider that government servants had to have 10 years of service before becoming pensionable. The DAP will support government steps to revert the three-year pensionsionable entitlement of Mps and State Assemblymen to the previous 9-year qualification.

DAP commends Datuk Musa Hitam for ‘humanitarian’ approach to foreign wives issue

I commend the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, for ‘delivering the goods’ in relaxing the immigration regulations by adopting a more ‘humanitarian’ approach in dealing with the foreign wives problem.

The new ruling, that foreign wives would be given yearly social visit passes for a period of five years, will end the problem faced by Malaysians, their foreign wives and offspring’s of enforced separation because of bureaucratic ‘hearts of stone’.

The problem of foreign wives should never have been allowed to reach the stage of acute human suffering, misery and hardships, and all Malaysians can have a sigh of relief that such bureaucratic insensitivity and inhumanity to the plight of foreign wives and their families are no more an ordinary feature of Malaysian life.

In this connection, I hope that Datuk Musa would modify the five-year social visit status of foreign wives to enable those with expertise and professional qualifications to work to put their talents to good use for the country’s national development.

Under the new regulations, only after the five-year social visit period would foreign wives be able to apply for entry permits for permanent residence. I am still of the view that such an administrative regulation is unconstitutional in violating Article 15 ( 1 ) of the Federal Constitution which provides that a ‘foreign wife’ is entitled to be a Malaysian citizen if she had resided in the country for two years. The immigration regulation, by denying her permanent resident status until after five years of ‘social visit status’, had in fact converted the two-year Constitutional qualification to a seven-year period. This, however, is a matter to be fought out and tested in the Courts, without the human sufferings and agonies caused by enforced bureaucratic brealing up of Malaysian families.