New M'sian PM Anwar Ibrahim looking to cut ministers' salaries

He previously reiterated that he would forgo his salary as PM too.

Tan Min-Wei | November 26, 2022, 01:00 PM

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New minted Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim shared new developments and principles about how his government would function, including reducing both the size of the cabinet and the salary of his ministers.

Do it for the country

Anwar gave a media statement in Friday afternoon (Nov. 25).

He said that his government would focus on addressing cost of living issues.

Anwar is also planning to reduce the size of the Malaysian cabinet from 31 to 25 ministers, Bernama reported. In addition, he's looking to reduce ministerial salaries, and intends to seek the agreement of future ministers to that end.

Shortly after taking office, he said he would forgo his salary as PM, as he had promised when he was running for the position.

At the time, he said he is "ashamed" to take a RM80,000 (S$24,566) salary when the Orang Asli villagers he visited find it difficult to get RM400 (S$122) a month, New Straits Times reported. Same goes for the people who are receiving (a minimum salary of) RM1,500 (S$460), he added.

Former Minister Syed Saddiq revealed in 2022 that Malaysian ministers earned RM55,000 (S$16,850) a month, in addition to an annual leave allowance of RM70,000 ($S21,440).

At the moment, Anwar is waiting for the component parties of his unity government to submit possible minister candidates.

One position that he did speak about was his former role as Minister of Finance. Anwar was Finance Minister between 1990 and 1998, but Bernama quoted him as saying that he was not considering taking up the position again.

Unity government

Anwar also said that with yesterday's (Nov. 24) announcement of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) joining, his government will have a two thirds majority in parliament. Anwar's Pakatan Harapan coalition has 82 seats, while Barisan Nasional and GPS hold 30 and 22 seats respectively. The full line-up of parties is likely to include parties like Warisan and Sabah's Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, as well as independent MPs.

There are 222 seats in the Malaysian parliament, with 112 required for a majority, and 148 required for a two thirds majority.

This gives Anwar's government the ability to alter the constitution. While for the majority of Malaysia's history, BN or its predecessor coalition The Alliance had that ability, this is something no Malaysian government has been able to do since 2008. Anwar has not given any indication that he intends to alter the Malaysian constitution, however.

Anwar has also said that the main opposition coalition, Perikatan Nasional, was welcome to join the unity government. PN's leader and former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has acknowledged Anwar's victory, congratulating him after a brief period of claiming that PN actually had the seats necessary to form the government.

However despite the thawing in rhetoric, Muhyiddin has said that PN will remain in opposition.

Sources within PN component party Parti Islam se-Malaysia or PAS, have expressed disappointment with this decision, however, according to the New Straits Times. While they said they intend to remain loyal to PN, they were uncomfortable with PN refusing the Malaysian Agong's request to join Anwar's unity government.

Underpinned by interpersonal ties

Meanwhile, after Anwar officially started his time as prime minister on Friday morning, he also took congratulatory calls from world leaders, including Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong.

PM Lee later took to Facebook to share a picture of him with Anwar when they met in 2018 during Anwar's visit to Singapore, while noting their decades old relationship.

In addition to congratulating him, PM Lee also invited Anwar to visit Singapore soon, saying he looked forward to working with him.

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Top image via Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook