‘Door not closed to extra funds for genuine needs’

PETALING JAYA: Members of Parliament can still apply for extra funds if there are any genuine needs for welfare or development despite the cut in their development allocations from RM3.8mil to RM1.3mil, says a civil society organisation.

Bersih chairman Thomas Fann, in welcoming the slash, said MPs should not be acting as constituency welfare or development officers while concurrently carrying out their primary duty as a lawmaker.

“If there are genuine welfare or development needs within their constituencies, they could still bring them to the attention of the relevant authorities instead of overseeing the application and implementation of these local projects,” he said when contacted yesterday.

On Thursday, The Star, quoting sources, reported that constituency allocations for government backbencher MPs this year have been slashed by more than 65%, from RM3.8mil to RM1.3mil.

The RM1.3mil consists of a RM1mil outright grant and another RM300,000 for service centre operations.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim confirmed that the development allowance for MPs had been reduced in a move that was meant to better control the country’s finances.

On the continued allocation of RM300,000 for the operation of service centres, Fann said this was necessary for MPs to pay rental and staff salaries.

However, he said it would be inconsistent with Anwar’s Malaysia Madani vision if Opposition MPs were excluded from these allocations.

“While we welcome this move, we wonder if Opposition MPs are also given equal allocations (for service centres)?

“The fact that Opposition MPs were also elected by voters should be respected, and they deserve similar treatment as government MPs,” he said.

On suggestions by social media users that the government slash MPs’ salaries and allowances instead of their development funds, Fann said that he did not agree with this.

“We believe that elected representatives should be adequately remunerated, and they should not be concerned about finding additional income to support their families and staff.

“If we underpay them, some workers will be tempted to derive more funding through illegal and unethical means, and taxpayers will end up paying more,” he said.

In Sibu, the reduction in constituency allocations for government backbencher MPs will have a negative impact on the people, says Datuk Larry Sng.

In a Facebook post yesterday, the Julau MP hoped the government would consider restoring the allocation rather than reducing it.

He pointed out that under three previous administrations, government MPs were given the same allocation.

“An additional allocation of RM500,000 was even provided for MPs from Sabah and Sarawak.

“Now about 70% of funding for our constituency has been slashed,” he said.

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