by K Veeriah
When people choose to indulge in politics, an unwritten rule says they should do so without any inclination to seek pecuniary benefits from their circumstances.
Those who, through their own choice, embark on a political voyage should be mindful they are in the political ecosystem without any illusion of self-gratification.
But then, such a utopian model seems misplaced in the present political landscape. Just look at the endless list of unjustified so-called salaries, allowances, benefits (in cash or in kind) and privileges bestowed upon our elected representatives – every sen paid out from hard-earned taxpayers’ money!
On top of the handsome financial returns, perks and privileges during their tenure of these elected representatives, skewered legislative enactments give this crop of individuals lucrative pay-offs when they vacate elected office, either on their own free will or when the people dump them at the ballot box.
Just by serving a limited period, an MP or state assembly member qualifies for a ‘pension’ and, in some cases, multiple ‘pensions’. That’s not all. They may also be entitled to a ‘golden handshake’.
Civil servants, by contrast, have to toil until they are 60 to receive a mediocre pension and gratuity – usually inadequate to sustain themselves after retirement.
Employees, in the private sector, are worse off – no retirement benefits or gratuity except for their Employees Provident Fund savings, and that too with insufficient funds, thanks to the ill-conceived schemes to allow withdrawals in the billions – ostensibly as ‘aid’ to the people when the government should have provided such financial aid in the first place.
While a significant segment of the people are still enslaved in poverty and those in the bottom and middle-income wage trap are struggling to sustain themselves, the colossal amount of taxpayers’ money being paid to underperforming cabinet ministers and ‘political retirees’ is devoid of justification.
Bleeding the people of their hard-earned money so that a bunch of politicians are rewarded just for waddling into the political landscape under the pretext of serving the people is nonsensical!
Under the circumstances, these politicians must have the decency to move a motion in Parliament or the state assemblies to scale down or abolish such ludicrous rates of salaries, perks, privileges, ‘pensions’ and ‘gratuitous’ payments.
The gauntlet has been thrown. Let’s see if any opposition party, MP or state assembly member has the guts to move a motion to abolish such a waste of hard-earned taxpayers’ money.
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang