The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has thwarted attempts by some ministers to "reward" their political supporters by giving them jobs, reported The Star today.
According to the report, such arrangements, apart from going against the government's austerity measures, also did not comply with a Public Service Department (PSD) circular published in 2012.
It was reported that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had issued a circular to all ministers and their deputies as a reminder that all salaries of people appointed by them must be in line with the 2012 document.
However, a government source told the daily that one minister had informed his ministry's officials that he wanted to appoint at least six special officers.
"He told the officials that his supporters needed to be rewarded after the general election. He also said if the ministry could not pay the salaries of these special officers, agencies under the ministry could do so. However, he was advised against doing so as it went against the regulations,” said another government source.
Another minister reportedly instructed a government-linked company (GLC) to pay the salary of his special assistant, but the plan was aborted after PMO sniffed it out.
There was also a case of a man who called up a ministry official and claimed he will come in as the special officer to a minister who was sworn in just last Monday, and said he will also be bringing several other people to serve as the minister's special officers.
An official told the daily: "It is not the minister that I worry about; it is the people he appoints. I am not sure where the ministry is getting the money to pay them but surely the agencies under the ministry will be asked to do so."
A PMO officer, who described the latest episode as "nonsense and ridiculous", said such practice would be a repeat of the previous administration.
The PSD circular states that a minister can only hire a special functions officer, a principal private secretary and a press secretary, apart from support staff, while a deputy minister can have a principal private secretary, a private secretary and two persons as support staff.
However, the prime minister had after a cabinet meeting on June 27, issued a circular which, among others, decided that a minister can have two special functions officers.
Malaysiakini has attempted to contact PMO for a response on the matter.