CNA – Cabinet ministers in Malaysia’s unity government have agreed to take a 20 per cent cut in their monthly salaries, said Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim after chairing his first Cabinet meeting yesterday.
They agreed to this out of concern for problems faced by the public, Anwar told a press conference at the prime minister’s office.
“This is until the economy recovers. If the economy recovers in three years, we will review this. The cutting of salaries is not appropriate, but I thank them for their willingness to sacrifice a bit,” he added.
“There are some people who said Anwar is not taking the prime minister’s salary, he will take the salary of the finance minister. That’s not right. There is only one salary.”
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, was flanked by deputy prime ministers Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Fadillah Yusof as well as Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali during the press conference at the prime minister’s office.
During the recent general election campaign, Anwar pledged to forgo his salary in solidarity with the plight of the people.
The Cabinet line-up, which comprises 28 ministers, was unveiled last Friday.
It is leaner than the previous Cabinet, as Anwar had earlier made clear his intention to downsize the team. He also said that he will do away with appointing Cabinet ministers as a form of reward. The list of deputy ministers has yet to be announced.
During yesterday’s press conference, Anwar also denied claims that he or the government had ordered the authorities to investigate those who criticised him.
He said that the investigations were carried out by the police on those who tried to incite racial or religious issues.
“This cannot be compared to criticism towards the prime minister or towards the government. I have never instructed … I have told the inspector general of police that criticism towards the prime minister and the government is part of the democratic system. It is allowed and permitted just like how I have the right to answer when needed,” he said.
The Chairman of the Conference of Rulers Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir had on Thursday said that all leaders must work towards putting an end to religious and racial extremism in the spirit of togetherness.
“I urge the new government to instil the spirit of togetherness among Malaysians. I hope there are no more leaders who will raise racial or religious issues to provoke the people,” Tuanku Muhriz was reported as saying by local media.
The Malaysian police had also warned social media users against sharing content that discussed sensitive issues involving race and religion.
Anwar also said that with the flooding season looming, Ahmad Zahid will chair the disaster management and flood preparedness committee.
Fadillah meanwhile has been tasked with expediting matters related to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), said Anwar.