Disclose Salary and Income of Top Civil Servants and Top Executives in Government Owned Companies

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 20th of August, 2015

Disclose Salary and Income of Top Civil Servants and Top Executives in Government Owned Companies

On Tuesday, 18th of August, 2015, the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) organized a seminar and exhibition[1] on Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative to secure concrete commitments from governments to “promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.”[2]

One of the commitments made by the UK government as part of the OGP initiative is the disclosure of the salaries of the top civil servants and senior officials in departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies earning £150,000 and above. The list of names and salaries can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/senior-officials-high-earners-salaries. The 2014 list has 315 names including the top executives in the 100% government owned UK Green Investment Bank.

The UK Green Investment Bank was capitalised with an initial £3.8 billion of public funds to finance green projects.[3] On its website, it also lists down the remuneration of its top executives as well as the salary ranges of its staff at various levels of management.[4]

The UK government even provides a list of special advisers to the government who earn more than £58,200 per annum.[5]

This kind of transparency is sorely needed in Malaysia.

For example, even if we can know the salary scale or band for civil servants, we do not know the exact income of the top civil servants including income from allowances and fees as directors of statutory bodies and government owned companies. According to a parliamentary reply I received, the monthly allowance of a chairman of a Ministry of Finance Incorporated Company is between RM8,000 to RM10,000 a month with board meeting allowances between RM2,500 to RM3,000 and committee meeting allowances of RM1,300 (See Table below).

Table: Allowances for Directors of Ministry of Finance Incorporated Companies (except for Development Finance Institutions)

Type of Allowance Chairman Board Member
Monthly Fixed Allowance RM8000 to RM10000 RM2500 to RM3000
Board of Directors Meeting Allowance RM2500 to RM3000 RM1500 to RM2000
Committee Meeting Allowance RM1300 RM1000

Source: Parliamentary Reply, 2nd session, 2015

The Secretary-General of the Treasury, Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah is listed as a director of 25 companies at the end of 2014 (See Appendix A below). In the interest of transparency, the total salary of top civil servants such as Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar should be disclosed publicly.[6]

The salary of CEOs and top executives of government agencies such as PEMANDU should also be disclosed. The yearly salary, allowance and bonus of agencies such as Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM) (RM830,500), SPAD (RM480,000) and TalentCorp (RM420,000) was only disclosed through a reply to my parliamentary question in 2013.[7]

When I asked for the salaries of the CEOs of MRT Corp, Prasarana, 1MDB and Khazanah via a parliamentary question in November 2013, the reply was that this information is private and therefore cannot be disclosed. I find this to be unacceptable given that all these companies are 100% owned by the government and therefore should be subject to disclosure and public scrutiny.

Even EPF, which has high quality disclosure and corporate governance by Malaysian standards, only disclosed the combined emoluments of the CEO and his 3 Deputy CEOs which totalled approximately RM4 million for the year 2014.[8]

The practice of disclosure of salaries should not be restricted to those at the federal level. The Penang and Selangor state governments can show the way by disclosing the salaries of the top executives in companies which are controlled by the respective state governments such as the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and other companies owned by the Chief Minister Incorporated (CMI) and the many companies that are majority owned by the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI).

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Appendix A: List of Directorships of Secretary General of the Treasury, Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan Serigar bin Abdullah

[1] http://ideas.org.my/events/18-august-2015-open-government-partnership-seminar-and-exhibition/

[2] http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about#sthash.3M5EQhyg.dpuf

[3] http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/about-us/

[4] http://www.greeninvestmentbank.com/media/44598/gib-salaries-2014.pdf

[5] http://data.gov.uk/dataset/special-advisers-list

[6] I would assume that the maximum allowances top civil servants like Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Irwan get from directors fees and allowances would be RM27,000 per year as per the government circular on the matter last updated in 1993: http://docs.jpa.gov.my/docs/pp/1993/pp021993.pdf

[7] http://ongkianming.com/2013/10/29/press-statement-the-prime-minister-should-walk-the-talk-by-cutting-expenditure-in-the-prime-ministers-department-and-by-not-creating-new-expensive-agencies/

[8] http://www.kwsp.gov.my/portal/documents/10180/5382689/6.OUR_ACCOUNTABILITY.pdf