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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why YB Ong Kian Ming is 'nakal'


I refer to the press statement by MP for Serdang Ong Kian Ming yesterday. 

This created a big hoo-haa on Twitterjaya. I didn’t know as I was busy in office until I saw my brother (blogger) Rockybru’s tweet to me.

I wanted to reply: “I don’t know bro, itu doktor cakap apa, kita dengarlah dulu. Dia ada PhD.” (I don’t know what that doctor is saying, bro, but let’s listen first. He has a PhD.)

There was also this cheeky headline (on a news portal) - ‘Contract staff, Pemandu directors paid more than chief secretary, says MP of spending spike’

Amboi, yang gaji paling tinggi ialah CEO Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) tapi kutuk Pemandu saja. Gajah depan mata tak nampak, tapi bising pasal pasu bunga dekat kaki gajah. (Wow, the highest salary was for the CEO of AIM but Pemandu gets slammed. They can’t see the elephant in the room, but they’re making a fuss about the flower pot next to the elephant’s foot.)

Little birds sent me an extract from the Hansard:

Gaji pengarah-pengarah Pemandu adalah di dalam kurungan JUSA C dan JUSA B dengan tambahan ‘premium’ di dalam linkungan 20 ke 30 peratus di atasnya, oleh kerana struktur Pemandu yang bersifat jangka pendek.

Pengarah-pengarah di Pemandu tidak diperuntukkan sebarang elaun. Justeru itu, pengarah-pengarah di Pemandu diupah secara kontrak jangka pendek selama dua atau tiga tahun sahaja yang membawa kepada risiko jaminan pekerjaan yang tinggi


(Pemandu directors' salaries are within the JUSA C and JUSA B category, with premiums of about 20-30 percent to suit Pemandu’s short-term nature.

Pemandu directors are not allocated any allowances. They are hired on a short term contract of two to three years only, which carries with it job security risks.)

When I saw that, I told myself - ini MP Serdang /Pemandu mungkin tipu kita. (Either this Serdang MP is lying to us, or Pemandu is).

Allowances galore
I definitely don’t have a PhD but I do have Google. So this is what I did. I found out that JUSA A’s salary is at RM17,331.46 per month. But is that all they get? Please, haven’t you heard that there are many fixed allowances that civil service enjoy?

For JUSA A, which is 4th ranked position in government and normally held by the secretary-general of ministries (layman’s term: Ministry CEO), they enjoy the following allowances monthly:
  • Imbuhan Tetap Keraian: RM4,000 (Source: JPA)
  • Imbuhan Tetap Perumahan: RM2,000 (Source: JPA)
  • Bayaran Insentif Khas Pengurusan Tertinggi: RM1,250 (Source: JPA)
  • Bayaran untuk Pembantu Rumah: RM500 (Source: JPA)
  • Bayaran Bantuan Menyelenggara Rumah: RM2,000 setahun/RM166.67 sebulan (Source: JPA)
Here’s the juicy part. On top of all the above fixed salary and non taxable allowances, usually senior civil servants sit in councils and as government-linked company (GLC) board members. Senior civil servants here include chief secretary, treasurer-general and all others that are TURUS 1, II, III as well as JUSA A, B, and C. 

Every board member will be paid either:
  1. A fixed monthly allowance; or
  2. Annual allowance + meeting attendance fees
The above ‘extra income’ depends on the rating, rank and budget of the board / council /GLC. The smallest fees that I know paid to board member of JUSA C rank are at RM7,000 annually plus RM500 as allowance for attending board meetings. That was before 2010. I don’t have the latest numbers.

Councils everywhere

Well, now you know why civil service likes to set up councils here and there. Simply because if you set up committees as Pemandu does, you don’t get paid.

There was once a minister who asked a fellow minister if the chairperson (which is him lah) and the members of the Pemandu-ministry X steering committee meetings will be paid allowances. The minister of course got told off by Pemandu through the microphone: “No, this is something that you must do, your job and responsibility!”

Do I need to point out how much one gets if he/she sits in a public-listed GLC? I know who and roughly how much. Maybe not, some other time.

I don’t have a sexy body but at least let me give you a strip tease in another form. 

Did you know that if a government officer is invited to give a speech/talk in a forum organised by a GLC or government department, the government officer gets paid?

NONEI was invited to a talk by GLC X and I was surprised to be given a souvenir bag. In the bag, there was a pen and notepad. I told myself, okay waste of money but whatever. Then there was this in an envelope (left):

Cheque - RM1,000. I pulled the organiser aside and asked: “What’s this for?” He said “for presenting the paper on management transformation”.

I told the organiser to take it back as I don’t see the point. Call it national service or whatever. The CEO of the company saw what I did from far and went to the organiser to ask what was happening.

Yes, guys, it is a norm to take the cheque but when someone returns it, it was as though a gorilla is running around in Jalan Ampang - shocker.

First class travel

NONEBack to the main story. Let’s add up all the above JUSA A salary and the allowances. We get the following:

A wise man who lives on top of Mount Kinabalu told me some JUSA A earn RM40,000 a month. So, perhaps the allowances for meetings and board member fees went up.

Of course, not forgetting those who are JUSA A and above, they do enjoy this:
  • Return flight ticket from KL to London - First Class for officer and spouse, economy class for kids; or
  • The senior officer may opt for cash - RM32,000 for the officer plus RM32,000 for the spouse plus RM6,000 per kid for a maximum of three kids.
Don’t believe me? Click here.

Let’s compare this with Pemandu and let’s assume that a Pemandu director earns RM40,000 per month. I said assume. Pay attention:
Pemandu director: RM40,000 per month
Less taxes: 9,472.08
Grand total: 30,572.92 per month

Yes, that’s all. You don’t need a new pair of spectacles. Pemandu directors do not get maid allowances, do not get paid holidays or first class tickets.

Net of taxes;
  1. A Pemandu director with a two year contract gets a take home salary of RM30,572.92 per month (if it is true at RM40,000 but I am sure it is much lower), versus
  2. A JUSA A officer currently takes home RM29,631.53 per month (at least) with job security and lifetime pension.
Bet you didn’t know that, Dr Ong? Next time, use Google and not jump around when you get a lollipop. Don’t be naughty. 

While we are on this, I wonder if (DAP-linked think tank) Refsa’s chief-at-large Teh Chi Chang is paid like a JUSA A. He was director for utilities and media, Asia-Pacific Equity Research at Citibank Investment Research. 

Someone with that CV surely won't leave to join an independent, not-for-profit institute for free, right? None of my business I know but if the cherries are juicy and they are truly ‘independent’, my CV is not that bad, too, sir. Definitely no fake degrees. 

Let us all not forget that Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) once said and I quote: “Of course, you pay him RM1, you’ll get RM1 worth”. He said this in response to Anwar Ibrahim’s appointment as Selangor Economic Advisor with a salary of RM1.

The chief secretary needs to double up his efforts to revamp the civil service with:
  1. A revision of the remuneration packages - productivity and results driven,
  2. Downsize the civil service by maintaining efficient and productive staff only,
  3. Improve transparency and accountability.
Point 3 is very important. We surely do not want to see the civil service with the same life story as some politician who was formerly a deputy prime minister for five years, became jobless for nine to 10 years and came back to buy a multimillion ringgit bungalow. Amazing, isn’t it?

GOH WEI LIANG is a senior analyst at a government agency. He blogs at http://manifestogwl.blogspot.com

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