Yesterday and today, I was interviewed by several news agencies on the pay hike. The Prime Minister has announced the pay hike of between 7.5% to 42% for all civil servants. The police and the armed forces enjoyed the biggest pay rise.
The cost of living allowance, or Cola, will also be increased by 100%. The announcement will cost Malaysia RM8 billion annually.
I was asked by both AFP and Radio Mediacorp Singapura if the pay hike has anything to do with the upcoming general elections. I replied:
"It does contribute a feel-good factor. Civil servants will welcome any form of increment," independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng told AFP. "But at the end of the day, there will still be some people who can barely make ends meet given their low salary base," he added.
I felt that the pay hike is necessary because many civil servants who are doing supporting duties are at a very low salary base. The quantum of increase may help to alleviate some of their burden but not necessary bringing them a comfortable life. Cost of living in the cities had increased significantly since the last major hike in 1993.
I told the radio station that the salary hike is not enough to discourage corruption if those corrupt practices are caused by human greed. Hence, the government must persevere to battle corruption and to improve productivity and service quality of the civil sector to commensurate with the pay hike.
Jeff Ooi's blog has an interesting story (Corrupt customs officers at Johore-Singapore Second Link) to tell on corruption. Many of us who had visited our northern and southern neighbours are quite familiar with the story.
At the end of the day, the public, as consumers, should pay for better service quality.