Are Pakatan’s priorities the rakyat or themselves?

There is a clear problem with the Pakatan Harapan government.

Instead of being a people-centric government, Malaysians have been treated to a return to Dr Mahathir Mohamad economics, a system characterised by broken trickle-down economics and a zealous commitment to the dismantling of social security structures – while maximising “reward” for those at the top.

The government, in the name of financial prudence, would rather cut BR1M/BSH entirely, give tax breaks to the rich and cut critical allowance for public servants who serve in key public services.

All this while, for every minister, taxpayer funds are going towards RM40,000 per year for their household appliances.

They are said to receive one fully taxpayer-funded overseas holiday, and if they nobly take the initiative to not travel abroad, they receive RM50,000 instead.

What exactly do our ministers do to deserve such remuneration?

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is quick to jump on every opportunity except those that involve his portfolio, is a clear example of what is wrong with this government.

In a selfie video addressing the JPA cuts to critical allowances, he vigorously defended the role of young doctors in our public healthcare.

His response? That he would cut his holiday time, return his holiday allowance and cut his salary by 10%.

Oddly enough, he did not extend this same gesture when he began his tenure as a minister by severely cutting down on funding for our national sports programmes.

When confronted by users on social media about this publicity stunt and over the fact that this should have been discussed in the Cabinet instead, Syed Saddiq’s officers attempted to deflect accusations of incompetence by stating that the Cabinet was simply blindsided by this decision.

Blindsided. Doesn’t that just mean the Cabinet is unconsciously incompetent?

A leaner civil service should not come at the expense of critical areas for the development of the nation such as health and education.

Not especially when our ministers boast five-figure salaries not only for themselves but their coterie of hangers-on and “advisers”, some of whom do not even have a university degree.

Actually, we even have a deputy minister with a reported fake degree.

Can someone in PH come out and explain how these individuals deserve RM10,000-RM50,000 salaries as opposed to a doctor or air traffic controller?

If the government wants to really cut operating budgets, they should start from the top – who by virtue of being elected, become part of the country’s top 1% at the expense of taxpayers.

Let’s be clear that this critical service allowance cut does not only affect the public health sector but 38 critical service sectors that include air traffic control officers and engineers across industries.

Our healthcare system alone is under severe strain. As shown in a report by the National Audit Department, our public healthcare sector is understaffed, underfunded and overcrowded and does not have enough equipment to provide proper levels of care.

In the words of health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, “we are currently underfunded, understaffed, underpaid, overworked, overstretched and with facilities overcrowded with patients. We all need to improve the public healthcare system … all of which are beyond the control of MOH.”

Laughably, what this move will ultimately do is segregate the old hires from the new ones, yet with the same job scope. For example, a permanent UD 44 MO and a new contract UD 41 MO will still have to do the same amount of on-calls and face the same type of risks – only one gets paid RM750 less.

This is not the message that we should be sending to future civil servants, who work day in and day out with long shifts and lives on the line.

Where are the priorities here? PH needs to be honest with us – do they really want to serve the rakyat or are they content with simply serving themselves?

Marcus Lim is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.