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LETTER | Will politicians accept one pension?

LETTER | Philosophically, moral responsibility is generally termed as the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission in accordance with one's moral obligations.

Morals are largely defined as what you believe to be right or wrong but the fundamental reason for morals is an idea or action that is driven by a desire to be good, to avoid harm to others, and to prevent or relieve the suffering of others.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has just put out a litmus test to all politicians including his cabinet on whether they should be “morally responsible“ by opting for only one pension scheme.

It will be very interesting to see who amongst our elected representatives will be “morally responsible”.

Surely there must be a few good men or women, but the people should not hold their breath to expect the vast majority to take up the PM's suggestion to opt for only one pension.

It is not for nothing that many politicians enter politics, apart from some who go rogue to amass vast fortunes through corruption, partly because of the cushy multiple retirement plans and with benefits still attached.

It would seem this challenge of leaving the decision to the politicians is mainly for optics and sound bite knowing the probability of politicians wanting their multiple pensions is high.

Comments on or support for the single pension by most politicians will likely be muted or vague except for those who are already very well-off and need to garner more popular support from the people.

They will, however, be careful not to push it too enthusiastically lest their own members turn against them and finally, like the PM, pass the buck to their own members.

The likely outcome of this suggestion will silently slip into the dark void of good suggestions never carried out because it does no good to those affected.

If this erstwhile suggestion is not accepted by our politicians, the nation and its people could be governed by politicians and ministers who are not ”morally responsible” as set down by the PM.

This begs the question: can the PM run the country efficiently and effectively with ministers he deemed not his equal or better in moral responsibility and can the people accept to be governed or represented by people who could be lacking moral responsibility?

Who should sacrifice?

The government has asked for a sacrifice from ordinary citizens joining the civil service in future to come under a new policy of non-pensionable permanent service.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said that pension payments in 2040 are estimated at RM120 billion if a new salary scheme which includes the proposed non-pensionable scheme is not introduced.

This gargantuan amount will probably dwarf the amounts for education, health, and development.

The government and Parliament will be deciding soon whether future civil servants will be called upon to forego a cornerstone of civil service employment, the pension.

For the past few years, the ordinary citizens, at their own voluntary financial detriment, have without much protest willingly supported the government on its many schemes to bring the economy back on track for the good of all.

Politicians of all ilk, race and party must make sacrifices too, for the wellbeing and progress of the nation.

The moral thing to do is to have Parliament enact this single pension scheme for all politicians and also have it apply to all including those already receiving multiple pensions.

It is now the right time for the PM to lead and direct instead of merely suggesting that politicians and citizens be “morally responsible”.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.