MAT-MATIK Politics

Rakyat asks ministers to take a pay cut. We kira what difference it makes and…uh…

So, a few days back, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that the govt does not have much money left. 

Images from Malay Mail and Asia News Day

And if you’ve been on social media, you’d know that the rakyat has been urging ministers to get a pay cut since the Parliament has been suspended due to the Darurat. However, they didn’t mention how much of a pay cut they wanted the ministers to get.

Seeing how a 5% versus a 90% pay cut is obviously a huge difference – and that’s not even including for how many months – we decide to take a look at the time our ministers and deputy ministers ACTUALLY took a pay cut as a baseline; and…..


…it totalled RM1.8 million. But they totally complained.

Just in case you missed it, ministers have taken pay cuts… in 2020 when the pandemic has just begun. All ministers and deputy ministers – from Muhyiddin down to Ti Lian Ker – have taken a 2-month pay cut to channel their income to the Covid-19 fund.

The result of that? They collected some RM1.8 million from the ministers and deputy ministers. The money was then channeled to the Covid-19 fund, which was launched in March 2020 by the govt, and it garnered a total of RM8.4 million.

Some companies also contributed to the Covid-19 fund last year. Img from BERNAMA, retrieved via PMO

However, it seems like some ministers were tak puas hati with the pay cuts despite still getting paid as Member of Parliaments or State assemblymen. One of them was Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who went on to say…

“The Perikatan Nasional administration has already forgone two months of salary.” – Redzuan to The Star.

He even added that there is NO need for ministers to take further pay cuts in the midst of the pandemic. To make matters worse, despite the calls for ministers to get a pay cut, we ended up seeing this headline instead…

Screenshot from Sinar Harian

Muhyiddin recently encouraged civil servants to opt for a pay cut to donate to a govt fund that is meant to help the current state of economy. And because of this, netizens brought up the issue of ministers getting a pay cut yet again. So, this got us thinking – if the ministers did get a pay cut, how many civil servants will be saved from getting pay cuts?

We scoured the Net to look at how much pay cut ministers in other countries have taken. Using this info, along with information on how much Malaysian civil servants earn (we’ll get to that in a bit), we came up with a calculation that you can check out here.

From this, we came up with four scenarios…


Best case scenario: 2,700 civil servants’ pay saved using India’s method

Soz, we can’t fit in all 2,700 of these makciks in one meme.

One of the countries where its ministers have taken a pay cut before was India. The Indian ministers took a 30% pay cut for… ONE YEAR. That is waaaaayyyy longer than the pay-cut Malaysian ministers have taken.

According to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the amount of money from the pay-cut was channeled to a consolidated fund in the wake of the pandemic. 

Narendra Modi. Img from Business Standard

So, if Malaysian ministers were to take this kinda pay-cut, the govt would be saving RM3,229,777.98.

Now, if you were to take that and divide with the salaries that civil servants are getting – between RM1,200 and RM13,180 (bear in mind that this varies based on their grades too) – then you’ll find out that up to 2,691 civil servants would be saved from getting their salaries cut… AT ALL!

So we asked 30 Malaysians what they thought about Singapore...


2nd best scenario: The ‘kiasu’ way can save 2,200 civil servants’ pay

Similarly to India, Singapore has also shown solidarity by cutting its ministers’ salaries for three months.

What’s interesting about this is how the ministers are not the only ones taking this pay-cut. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat mentioned...

“The President, Speaker and both Deputy Speakers have informed me that they will join in and take a similar three-month pay cut in total.” – As quoted by Straits Times.

Heng. Img from Straits Times

So using this method on our ministers only (because we’re strictly following what netizens have been suggesting), Malaysia would’ve saved a whopping RM2,691,481.65! That’s equivalent to saving up to 2,242 civil servants from giving up any percentage of their salaries.


An ok scenario: 897 civil servants are spared with NZ’s method

Well, the Malaysian govt can also follow the New Zealand govt led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In 2020, the Kiwi Ministers took a 20% pay cut for six months in solidarity with the Kiwis. 

“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action … it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need.” – Jacinda, as quoted by The Guardian.

Jacinda. Img from Financial Express

If the Malaysian govt follows this, then it can save RM1,076,592.66, which is equivalent to 897 civil servants’ pay, at most.


🤷‍♂️ case scenario: Mahathir’s way can save 224 civil servants

Coming back to our tanah air, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, suggested that the ministers take a 30% pay cut in 2020. He even added that ministers won’t starve if they take this kinda pay cut anyways.

The main reason why he urged the ministers to take this pay cut was to reduce unnecessary expenses on Budget 2021

He’s known for cutting a lot of things within the govt anyways. Unedited img from The Sun Daily

But here’s the thing – Mahathir didn’t specifically mention how long the ministers should take this pay cut. So, we’re just gonna his method for a one-month pay. 

With this method, Malaysia can save RM269,148.17. While this may seem little as compared to the previous scenarios we listed, it can actually save 224 civil servants’ salaries from any cuts per month – or 2,688 of them if the pay cuts go on for a year because, math.

By now, you may be wondering if cutting ministers’ salaries would make a huge difference.


No, cutting ministers’ salaries might not ‘Save Malaysia’ but…

On the surface, seeing the numbers of civil servants spared from getting pay cuts might seem….small…but it’s actually smaller than you’d think because those numbers are less than 1% of the total number of civil servants in Malaysia (read: a whopping 1.71 million).

So, we did another MAT-MATIK for you (see sheet called Civil servants pay cut) and you’ll find out that maybe, just maybe, Muhyiddin has a valid reason to his recent announcement.

The govt can get at least RM205 million from civil servants! :O Click image to see full calculation

But perhaps, at the end of the day, it may not be about the numbers at all.

If you look at it from a corporate perspective, it’s always expected that the top management would be the first to get a pay cut AND work their butts off to pull the company out of a dire situation, both as a gesture and, well, because that’s what they’ve been paid to do. Of course, we get extra angerey when that isn’t the case, such as when we see news of executives getting high bonuses during these times while regular workers are losing jobs or getting salary reductions.

Using that analogy, there really may come a time when the management has no other choice but to ask regular employees to take a pay cut (voluntarily or not). They may give you numbers, they may give you compelling reasons.

But doesn’t it always feel better when it looks like they’ve already made the bigger sacrifices and are asking for solidarity with you?

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