Sarawak Cabinet members with more than one portfolio only entitled to highest salary

Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar

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KUCHING, Feb 12: A Sarawak Cabinet member who holds more than one portfolio will only be receiving remuneration in respect of the highest salary payable among the posts.

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar confirmed this during a press conference today held at the DUN complex.

He said the remuneration of a Cabinet member is governed by Section 11 of the Members of the Administration and Members of the DUN (Remuneration, Pensions and Gratuities) Ordinance, 2013.

He cited the Section which reads, “Unless otherwise provided, a Member to whom any salary, allowance and benefit are payable under this Ordinance shall be entitled to receive only such salary, allowance and benefit but if he is the holder of two or more offices in respect of which salaries, allowances and benefits are so payable, and there is a difference in the salaries, allowances and benefits payable in respect of those offices, the office in respect of which such salary, allowances and benefits are payable shall be in respect of which the highest Salary is payable.”

Previously, the Opposition was quick to question ministers’ salaries for more than one portfolio after Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg announced the new Cabinet line-up on Dec 30, 2022.

The new State Cabinet saw Abang Johari holding three offices, namely, Minister for Finance and New Economy, Minister for Natural Resources and Urban Development, and Minister for Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

Meanwhile, his deputies Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan also hold more than one portfolio, as well as Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah who was made the Minister in charge of two offices.

According to Asfia, in the formation of the State Cabinet, the chief minister acted within the ambit and purview of Article 6(3) of the Sarawak Constitution, that is, the chief minister and a 10-member Cabinet. This has been the practice since 1995.

“To catapult the development of the country with a quantum leap, you need to create more portfolios to meet the ever-rising demand of the country and to keep abreast with the tempo of modernity and the emergence of up-to-date services and technologies.

“With the increase in portfolios and the constitutionally limited size of the Cabinet, it is inevitable that the chief minister has more portfolios,” he explained.

He further said the argument that the size of the Cabinet must strictly conform to the ratio to the country’s population is an irrelevant tirade used by Peninsular-based political parties to deprive and deny Sarawak’s requests.

He added that the size of the Cabinet is determined by the dynamism and single-mindedness of the government to achieve the country’s goals, to fulfil its promises to its people because thousands of projects cry out to be done.

He also cited other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, which do not allow themselves to be shackled by the ratio between the size of the Cabinet in proportion to its populations.

“The agenda of the State government overrides the argument that the size of the Cabinet must be in ratio to population. This argument is a myopic reflection of the State’s affairs,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily