Premier: Sarawak studying increasing civil service salaries to stop corruption
Posted on : 10 Nov 2022  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (second right) witnesses the signing of the SEDC Integrity Pledge by Abdul Aziz (third right) and Abdul Hadi. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING (Nov 10): The Sarawak government is studying the possibility of increasing the quantum of state civil service salaries as a way to stop corruption, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said such an approach was akin to what is being practised in Singapore.

“Civil servants are not being paid enough to cope with increasing cost of living, giving rise to the tendency to ask for takes, under-the-table money, abuse of power, and so on.

“This (increasing of salaries) needs careful study because the state government cannot simply create posts or create its own system of salaries and pension benefits without being subject to the federal civil service,” he said in his keynote address at the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Integrity Day here today.

He pointed out that all pensionable posts were subject to the approval of the Federal Services Department (JPA) in view that all pensions are paid by the federal government.

“But I think we have a way around this bypassing the need to be subject to JPA and provided that we have a strong economy,” he said.

Abang Johari said he is in the midst of preparing the Bill to set up the state’s sovereign wealth fund.

“In the coming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting, I will introduce the sovereign fund, which will also include an endowment fund.

“I hope that if we get good returns and our economy and financial position are strong, we can of course share the benefits with civil servants,” he said.

On the issue of integrity, Abang Johari said the Sarawak government always believes in the common goal of upholding integrity and sustaining good corporate governance practices in line with its vision of becoming a developed state by 2030.

He said to achieve its goal and by understanding the possible impact of corruption in the system, the state has embarked on various corruption prevention measures and establishment of mechanisms to ensure public interests would be safeguarded.

These include the establishment of an Internal Audit Unit under the administration of the State Financial Secretary’s Office; setting up of the Integrity and Ombudsman Unit under the Premier’s Office; and making it mandatory for all government agencies to set up an Integrity Unit as well as having at least one Certified Integrity Officer (CeIO) in the organisation.

“I am indeed very happy to note that from the year 2010 to 2021, a total of 1,806 participants were trained as CeIO and 79 were from outside Malaysia. We trust that these measures will instil public confidence and allow smooth implementation of various government projects.

“Therefore, it prides me to mention that Sarawak has built a strong foundation with clear objectives in addressing corruption, governance, and integrity,” he said.

He also commended SEDC on its various initiatives in combating corruption at its own level through the establishment of the SEDC Anti-Corruption Committee (JAR), Corruption Risk Management Plan, Organisation Anti-Corruption Plan, as well as obtaining certification in MS ISO 37001; 2016 Anti-Bribery Management System (ABMS) by Sirim.

“SEDC has long recognised integrity and compliance as fundamental to the soundness of its administrative and financial management. Indeed, integrity has been made among the core values of its governance.

“I believe that SEDC strives to instil integrity in their staff and ensure that it becomes the guiding principle in all their operations and actions. As one of the government vehicles, every staff (member) of SEDC must possess a high level of integrity, resilience, agility, and be innovative to win the trust of the people and build public confidence,” he said.

He also said that organising Integrity Day and other similar initiatives would foster better understanding among members of the organisation on the importance of being responsible and having an honest workforce in delivering a range of intended services for the people of Sarawak.

Among those present at the event were Deputy Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi; Deputy Minister of Transport Datuk Dr Jerip Susil; Deputy Minister of International Trade, Industry, and Investment Datuk Dr Malcolm Mussen Lamoh; SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Hussain; and SEDC general manager Datu Abdul Hadi Abdul Kadir.