Just last night, it was announced that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Cabinet ministers will not be receiving their monthly salaries for three months starting from June to show solidarity for the front liners and Malaysians as the country continues its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The money would instead be channeled to the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund to cover COVID-19 related expenses.
“The decision to implement the lockdown is a difficult but necessary action. Its success would depend on you and with God willing. The government has closed almost all economic and social sectors to reduce movement and break the chain of Covid-19 infection,” Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Previously in April 2020, New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers took a 20% pay cut lasting six months to show solidarity with those affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This move had been strongly welcomed by New Zealanders and it was seen as a move that bridged the gap between the rulers and the ruled.
“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action … it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need.” – Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern –
Another country where its ministers have taken a pay cut before was India. The Indian ministers took a 30% pay cut for a whole year. According to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the amount of money from the pay-cut was channeled to a consolidated fund in the wake of the pandemic.
Similarly, in Singapore, the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers and other political office-holders, as well as the President, took a three-month pay cut to stand in solidarity with Singaporeans during the pandemic. It consisted of an additional two-month pay cut on top of a one-month pay cut in light of the deteriorating situation caused by the coronavirus.
This should be a highly commendable act coming from the Malaysian government, since the funds will help those in need and finally shows the government’s empathy towards its people. Even if this were to be a political tactic, it undoubtedly benefits the people in these trying times. Although the government might have slipped up previously, this is definitely one of those things which they have done right, and should continue to do. Still, is it too little too late?