Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has promised a 378.04 million dollars (1.46 billion ringgit) in salary hikes to Malaysia’s civil servants which according to reports is a key vote bank for the ruling coalition in a looming general election.
Malaysia’s 1.6 million civil servants, most of them ethnic Malays, have traditionally been supporters of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition. However, the rising cost of living has been a concern for many, with some ruling party officials warning that they could turn against the party if the issue is not addressed.
Scandal-plagued Najib needs to consolidate support for his coalition to stave off an unprecedented challenge from his former mentor turned opposition leader, Mahathir Mohamad.
“The government has agreed to increase the salaries amounting to one service year for all 1.6 million civil servants … with an additional 1.46 billion ringgit from July 1,” Najib.
Najib promised a one-time cash payment of 1,500 ringgit in October for civil servants and 750 ringgit for government retirees as part of the government’s 2018 budget.
Civil servants saw a salary hike between seven and 13 per cent in 2012 ahead of elections the following year.
Najib faces a tough contest in the upcoming polls – which could be called in days – amid a multi-billion dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB.
Najib and the fund have denied any wrongdoing.
Parliament approved a plan on March 28 to redraw electoral boundaries, a move that the opposition and critics say will help Najib’s coalition retain power.