KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday promised RM1.46 billion (S$495 million) in salary hikes to the country's civil servants, a key vote bank for the ruling coalition in a looming general election.
The 1.6 million civil servants in Malaysia, 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 Datuk Seri Najib needs to consolidate support for his coalition to stave off an unprecedented challenge from his former mentor turned opposition leader, Tun Dr 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 RM1.46 billion from July 1," Prime Minister Najib told a gathering of civil servants in the administrative capital, Putrajaya.
Mr Najib also promised a one-time cash payment of RM1,500 in October for civil servants and RM750 for government retirees as part of the government's 2018 budget.
HELPING CIVIL SERVANTS
Number of civil servants.
Additional amount the salary hikes will cost the government. The rising cost of living has been a concern for many civil servants.
Civil servants saw a salary hike of 7 per cent to 13 per cent in 2012, ahead of elections the following year.
Mr Najib faces a tough contest in the upcoming polls amid a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Parliament approved a plan last week to redraw electoral boundaries, a move that the opposition and critics say will help the ruling coalition retain power.
Meanwhile, Mr Najib started a visit to Sarawak yesterday, a key state for his ruling coalition. He officiated at a community leadership seminar and attended a public dinner in eastern Miri town.
Today, Mr Najib is expected to launch a bridge project in Miri and officiate at the handover ceremony of the Bakun Dam project near Belaga town.