PM blames indiscriminate civil service pay hikes for rising prices

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says ‘blatant’ salary increment of civil servants was among the causes of rising living costs. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says ‘blatant’ salary increment of civil servants was among the causes of rising living costs. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 ― The previous government’s “blatant” salary increments for public workers was among the causes of rising living costs, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

During Minister’s Question Time (MQT) in Parliament today, the Langkawi MP said the practice also caused the private sector to follow suit.

“We find that the blatant salary increment of civil servants is among the factors for increased living cost.

“When the government hikes salaries (of civil servants), the private sector also joins in and the cost of things increase,” he said.

“Though we admit that the salary increment is welcomed by all civil servants, it must be noted that it must be in tandem with increased productivity," Dr Mahathir added.

Dr Mahathir had made the same remark last year after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya.

He claimed that the twice yearly salary hike for civil servants was a contributing factor to the rise in prices of goods.

This was however, criticised by former Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who said that the claim was contrary to what the PH government championed as the then Opposition coalition about the low and uncompetitive salary of Malaysians.

“If we review it, one of the PH government’s narrative during the general election campaign was to address the low salary scale for unskilled Malaysians.

“That is why the minimum wage limit of RM1,500 was one of the main points offered, only to set it at RM1,050 after they (PH) won and then it was revised to RM1,100,” said Khaled in a 20-point statement.

Khaled, who lost Johor to the PH coalition during the May 9 general election, explained that the number of civil servants in the country was also not large, as it matched the needs of the population with a 1:20 ratio.

Dr Mahathir had lamented that he was not happy with a bloated civil service as his successors did not follow his philosophy of a lean workforce during his 15-year absence from government.

Dr Mahathir, who was in power for 22 years until he stepped down in 2003, was known to have argued against an increase in salary, saying it was a factor in rising living costs.