KUCHING, May 21 – Salaries of Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, his Cabinet and lawmakers were tripled today despite the Sarawak chief minister being linked to corruption by environmental pressure group Global Witness earlier this year.
The Sarawak state assembly approved the pay rise today, but backdated to January 1, 2012. This will involve some RM17 million, state news agency Bernama reported today.
The Members of the Administration and Members of Dewan Undangan Negeri (Remuneration, Pensions and Gratuities) Bill 2013 also provides for increased remuneration for the state assembly speaker, deputy speaker and political secretaries.
The remuneration of the chief minister (picture)will rise from RM13,000 to RM39,000; deputy chief minister, RM11,500 to RM35,000; senior minister and state assembly speaker, RM9,000 to RM30,000; ministers, RM9,000 to RM27,000; assistant ministers and assembly deputy speaker, RM7,000 to RM21,000; state assemblymen, RM4,500 to RM15,000 and political secretaries, RM3,000 to RM9,000.
The last pay adjustment for the state leadership was in 1992.
Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said a review of the remuneration was done in view of the increasing expectations of the people.
“Sarawak is as big as Semenanjung (the peninsula) and a lot of Members of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (state assemblymen) have to cover a large territory, particularly those who serve the rural areas,” he said.
Wong said the new bill would take effect by next week.
Last month, Taib challenged Global Witness to debate him on the issue of illegal land deals in Sarawak, and accused the international environmental activist group of having a hidden agenda by visiting Malaysia’s biggest state in a “sneaky way”.
The chief minister was cast into the international spotlight last month after Global Witness released a video documentary alleging the state Barisan Nasional chief to have received millions of ringgit in kickbacks over land deals that have denuded the Borneo state.
He refuted accusations that only five per cent of forests is left in the state, saying that the true picture can be found by looking at the state using Google’s satellite images.
Google maps the Earth using periodic shots taken using satellite imagery and aerial photography in its applications Google Earth and Google Maps.
Taib had also said that he will not co-operate with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) regarding his graft allegations as he believes the government body to be “naughty” and “dishonest” in its investigations.