Disclose pay of top civil servants and execs

Ong Kian Ming

Modified 20 Aug 2015, 4:36 am

On Tuesday, Aug 18, 2015, the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) organised a seminar and exhibition on Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative to secure concrete commitments from governments to “promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance”.

One of the commitments made by the UK government as part of the OGP initiative is the disclosure of the salaries of the top civil servants and senior officials in departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies earning £150,000 and above. The list of names and salaries can be downloaded online .

The 2014 list has 315 names including the top executives in the 100 percent government owned UK Green Investment Bank.

The UK Green Investment Bank was capitalised with an initial £3.8 billion of public funds to finance green projects . On its website, it also lists down the remuneration of its top executives as well as the salary ranges of its staff at various levels of management.

The UK government even provides a list of special advisers to the government who earn more than £58,200 per annum.

This kind of transparency is sorely needed in Malaysia.

For example, even if we can know the salary scale or band for civil servants, we do not know the exact income of the top civil servants including income from allowances and fees as directors of statutory bodies and government owned companies.

Salaries private?

According to a parliamentary reply I received, the monthly allowance of a chairman of a Ministry of Finance Incorporated Company is between RM8,000 to RM10,000 a month with board meeting allowances between RM2,500 to RM3,000 and committee meeting allowances of RM1,300.

The secretary-general of the Treasury, Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah is listed as a director of 25 companies at the end of 2014 (See Appendix A below). In the interest of transparency, the total salary of top civil servants such as Mohd Irwan Serigar should be disclosed publicly.[1]

The salary of CEOs and top executives of government agencies such as Pemandu should also be disclosed. The yearly salary, allowance and bonus of agencies such as Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) (RM830,500), Spad (RM480,000) and TalentCorp (RM420,000) was only disclosed through a reply to my parliamentary question in 2013.

When I asked for the salaries of the CEOs of MRT Corp, Prasarana, 1MDB and Khazanah via a parliamentary question in November 2013, the reply this information is private and therefore cannot be disclosed.

I find this to be unacceptable given that all these companies are 100 percent owned by the government and therefore should be subject to disclosure and public scrutiny.

Even EPF, which has high quality disclosure and corporate governance by Malaysian standards, only disclosed the combine emoluments of the CEO and his three deputy CEOs, which totalled approximately RM4 million for the year 2014.

Penang, Selangor must set example

The practice of disclosure of salaries should not be restricted to those at the federal level.

The Penang and Selangor state governments can show the way be disclosing the salaries of the top executives in companies which are controlled by the respective state governments such as the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and other companies owned by the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) and the many companies that are majority owned by the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI).

[1] I would assume that the maximum income top civil servants like Mohd Irwan would be RM27,000 per year as per the government circular on the matter last updated in 1993.

ONG KIAN MING is MP for Serdang.

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