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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Selangor reps: Constituents expect generous hands


The steep salary hike for state representatives in Selangor has raised eyebrows but assemblypersons insist that the current system does not pay them enough.

This, they said, is because many full time politicians have no other source of income but still need to contribute part of their salary to their party and constituents.

NONEEven though state assemblypersons are allocated RM500,000 a year for their constituents, not all programmes can draw money from this fund which require time for approval, says DAP's Sekinchan state assemblyperson Ng Suee Lim (left).

From weddings to funerals, state assemblypersons are expected to make a "contribution" when attending such events and these don't normally come from the annual allocation.

"For Malay weddings, we are expected to give RM50 and Chinese weddings are even more expensive.

"Then there are garlands and wreaths that we need to buy for celebrations or funerals and the occasional meal for people we meet.

"Sometimes we also need to take up newspaper advertisement for events or congratulatory messages, All these add up," he said when contacted.

Public service at high cost

The out-of-pocket price tag for all these? RM1,500 a month, said Ng.

Furthermore, even though the state government subsides state representatives RM10,000 for employing aides,anything extra must also come from their own pockets.

Here, Ng said he has to fork out an additional RM1,000 a month to service his constituents on top of the regular funding from the state.

That's not all, said Ng, who must also contribute 10 percent of his salary to the party.

"That is for full-time politician, if you are part-time, for example a lawyer, then you need to contribute more," he said.

Added to all these, Ng said assemblypersons were people, too. with bills to settle.

'Bills to pay'

His list expenses include RM3,000 a month for the education and upkeep of his three children and RM3,600 a month for car and house loans.

"My personal expenses are also high because as a representative, I need to travel a lot and that amounts to another RM3,000 a month.

"These does not include insurance and other miscellaneous spending like local holidays for the children," he said.

Ng said he could only manage his expenses with the current salary because his wife helps run a restaurant business for him.

NONE"We are not like BN where we get projects. If there are 10 projects and we profit 10 percent from each of them, then of course we have enough," he said.

Meanwhile, Meru state assemblyperson Dr Abdul Rani Osman who oversees a constituency with some 40,000 voters, more than double that of Sekinchan, said he ,too ,had to parcel out his own money to serve his constituency.

"I am a doctor but because I join politics full time I have no other income and ended up subsiding the government," he lamented.

Abdul Rani, who is also Selangor PAS commissioner, said he spends about RM3,000 of his own or his constituency every month in addition to the annual allocation.

"And before the state government approved RM10,000 for the hiring of aides, I could only afford to pay my five assistants RM800 each," he said.

Furthermore, PAS state assemblypersons in Selangor are also required to contribute 30 percent of their salary to the party, said Abdul Rani.

"Since 2008, we've contributed 20 percent of our salary to the party at the state level and another 10 percent at the constituency level," he said.

The Selangor state assembly is planning to boost its members' salary from RM6,000 to RM11,250.

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