Ministers’ entertainment: a 75% cut more like it

Letter from Malaysiakini
Yow Lop Siaw | Jun 12, 08 4:15pm

 

The initiative to cut the entertainment allowances of ministers by 10% and other costs such as restricting paid overseas travel by families of ministers and so on is just an eyewash and a way of pleasing the people. The 10% cut is peanuts as most of the time, it is the ministers who are entertained by those who wish to seek favours or be in their good books.

A 75% cut would be more appropriate and realistic. After all, ministers also derive income from being elected representatives and this 75% cut should not be painful, especially if they truly believe and profess to be our wakil rakyat – they should feel for the rakyat and be one of us.

After all, this cut is only for this current difficult period and once conditions recover, this cut could be lifted. In fact, a true wakil rakyat should be one who would step forward voluntarily and seek such cuts.

Another area that should be looked at and steps be taken to curb this wanton practice is the habit of organising training and staff development programmes in posh hotels and resorts.

I remember a government servant friend telling me that there is a huge allocation for such purposes and they find ways and means of utilising this allocation – hence such wasteful practices.

Housing big groups of participants in hotels with meals and accommodation provided over a few days costs tens of thousands of ringgit and if you factor that by the number of such courses, hundreds of thousands of ringgit are spent, and that’s just for one department.

The entertainment allowance cut should be extended to all senior government servants, not just ministers. At the moment, an entertainment allowance is given to all senior government servants across the board, with only the quantum varying.

There are many categories of senior government servants who do not need to entertain at all. Such a move would not be popular but if we consider the recent hefty pay hike. A temporary cut in entertainment allowance would not really hurt.

Scale down, postpone or cancel projects, especially mega ones in order to have enough money to face these difficult times. The government keeps telling us to adjust or change our lifestyle in the face of rising costs.

We are doing this and we have been doing that so don’t just tell us – the government must also adjust to accommodate and weather the difficult times. Food shortages, especially rice, will push prices up. Transport costs will escalate, as a result of rising petroleum price.

In short, almost everything will fall short, including our tempers when we think of the government’s wasteful practices. It is imperative that the government sit down and seriously go through all major projects planned and do a complete revamp.

Providing food and a roof for the rakyat will be a serious problem if we continue to embark on these mega-projects.

We are also aware that the NS programme costs millions. The government should look into various costs involved, such as costs of food supply, uniform supply, transport charges and other costs – are prices quoted fair and just?

Word has it that each set of uniform costs a few times more than the Singapore regular army’s! If that is the case, it is really absurd. And if this is indeed true, what about other costs – are they competitive?

In conclusion, have your ministers go through their operating costs and come up with viable suggestions to cut costs. If they do that, then they can claim to be our true wakil rakyat.

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