Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) are an MP/ ADUN allocation to support grass-root level projects in constituencies.
Our last post provided an overview on what political financing is, but did you know that MPs have been receiving unequal CDF allocation despite having similar roles? Continue reading to unpack how much an MP earns and how CDF funds are allocated
How much does an MP earn?
An elected official’s salary is determined by the sum of monthly salary and the monthly allowances that the official is entitled to. This amount is then decided by the positions that they hold within the government.
Members of Parliament (MP), monthly allowances
- Senate (Dewan Negara): RM11,000
- House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat): RM16,000
A Malaysian parliamentarian would also earn a monthly salary based on the administrative or executive government position that they hold;
Monthly Salary of Members of the Administration:
- Prime Minister: RM22,826.65
- Deputy Prime Minister: RM18,170.20
- Minister: RM14,907.20
- Deputy Minister: RM8,847.65
Overall, there is a direct correlation between income and the position of power a Parliamentarian holds. If an MP holds two or more administrative offices within the government, the official would then only be entitled to the highest salary and allowances payable for the position that they hold.
The salary and allowances for a State Legislative Assembly (ADUN) member are controlled and governed by each individual state.
Malaysian MPs are also entitled to a host of other allowances and claims. Which include:
- Meeting allowances
- Entertainment allowances
- Special payment allowances
- Monthly travelling allowances
- Driver allowances
- Meal allowances
- Daily living allowances
An MP’s income, further explained
In Budget 2022, RM148 Million has been allocated to the “running of parliament”.
As a result of amendments brought on in 2015;
- An MP would earn RM16,000 a month
- If the MP was a minister, the lawmaker would get an additional RM13,400
That’s not all! MP’s get paid on top of their monthly salary, for coming in to work;
- For showing up to parliament, they can collect RM400
- For showing up to government “meetings or workshops”, they can collect RM300
MP’s also need not use their monthly salary to purchase their “wants” as most leisurely expenses are taken care of through allowances:
- MP’s can collect RM2500 in “entertainment allowances”.
- MP’s can purchase the latest iPhone or Macbooks, if they collect the RM2000 in handphone allowance or the RM6000 computer allowances
MP’s also can look their best, with their purchases of dress wear being subsidised up to RM1000.
CDF: Another income for MP
Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) is an MP/ ADUN allocation to support grass-root level projects in constituencies
- Repairing basic schools and community centres
- Providing back-to-school assistance
- Assisting with sports and healthy lifestyle projects.
This policy aims to help fill in the important gaps in government services in constituencies that have not been addressed in the government’s large, comprehensive policy programs.
However, the allocation has attracted intense debate in Malaysia.
- Due to the unequal distribution of CDF between MP/ ADUN from opposition parties and the ruling party. The CDFs have also been condemned as a political tool to buy political support.
- Critics claimed that this abuse is an unfair advantage of the incumbent government.
Here are a few examples, during the BN administration
- The allocation for each BN MP ranged between RM5,000,000 to RM10,000,00
- Opposition MPs did not receive any allocation.
During the PH administration
- equal distribution of CDFs also was not realised.
- PH MPs received RM1,500,000
- Opposition MPs received RM200,000.
Continuing our discussion on MP’s income…
A member of parliament in Malaysia may be the only profession where they themselves can decide on what wage to receive. The last time MP’s gave themselves a raise was in 2015. The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department at the time, Shahidan Kassim justified the raise as “the duty of the Members of Parliament is getting heavier in carrying out the high hopes of the people, and this will boost the spirit of the elected representatives to work with more commitment and dedication” 
However, MP’s in Malaysia sit far less than their counterparts, for instance:
- US congress members sat for 145 days in 2017
- UK MPs sat for 158 days, during the 2015-2016 session 
Our parliamentarians, in contrast, are slated to only meet for 60 days this year, according to the parliamentary schedule. Furthermore, there should be a greater discussion on the disparity between the average Malaysian and their representative.
The average salary of a Malaysian citizen in 2019, was RM3224. The individual would be expected to work 20 days a month, for about six hours per day. Assuming the Malaysian citizen works year round, the yearly salary would be RM38,688 with about 1440 hours clocked in. Compare that, with an MP who, in theory doesn’t attend parliament, could still receive an annual salary of RM192,000 (without collecting any allowances).
“Ministers get a luxurious house in Putrajaya, cars, drivers and even expenses for their daily meals can be claimed back from the government.” Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, MP of Muar.
At the end of the day, their salaries come from the taxes collected. Hence, as their employers it’s worth reflecting whether MPs truly adding RM192,000 worth of value yearly into the economy, compared to the average Malaysian? If not, does this mean MP’s are being paid too much, or is the rakyat not compensated fairly? Furthermore, are members of the dewan rakyat the best individuals to decide on their respective wages?
Potential Ideas for a more equitable wage
There has been progress, for one
- YB Datuk Mastura Mohd Yazid from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department announced equal allocations to be provided to government and opposition MPs over the period of September to December 2021.
- MPs who are absent during parliamentary votes may have to repay their salary as the Swedish parliament did.
- The government should give priority to asset declaration laws. Currently, no one is penalised for not declaring their assets and MACC’s website on asset declarations does not have detailed information.
- Equitable CDFs should be implemented over a longer-term, not just 4 months during a “Memorandum of Understanding”.
CDF Law Needed to Prevent Abuse of Power and Ensure Equitable Allocation. (2021, March 30). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from IDEAS website: https://www.ideas.org.my/cdf-law-needed-to-prevent-abuse-of-power-and-ensure-equitable-allocation/
Constituency Development Fund – Office of the Prime Minister. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://opm.gov.jm/opm_agency/constituency-development-fund/
Dzulkifly, D. (n.d.). How much do Pakatan ministers and MPs actually earn? Saifuddin Nasution explains | Malay Mail. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from www.malaymail.com website: https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/12/27/how-much-do-pakatan-ministers-and-mps-actually-earn-saifuddin-nasution-expl/1822606
Hakim, A. (n.d.). Just How Much Do Malaysian Parliamentarians Get Paid? | TRP. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from https://www.therakyatpost.com/ website: https://www.therakyatpost.com/news/malaysia/2019/12/27/just-how-much-do-malaysian-lawmakers-earn/
IDEAS welcomes equal allocation for all members of parliament. (2021, September 28). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from IDEAS website: https://www.ideas.org.my/ideas-welcomes-equal-allocation-for-all-members-of-parliament/
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act amended to provide for corporate liability for corruption offences. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from Allen & Gledhill website: https://www.allenandgledhill.com/vn/publication/articles/15447/malaysian-anti-corruption-commission-act-amended-to-provide-for-corporate-liability-for-corruption-offences
Othman, A. F., Ariff, S. U., & Yusof, T. A. (2019, July 1). Dewan Rakyat passes special motion on asset declaration | New Straits Times. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from NST Online website: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/07/500680/dewan-rakyat-passes-special-motion-asset-declaration
Removal or Reform: Charting the Way Forward for Malaysia’s Constituency Development Funds (Peruntukan Ahli Parlimen dan ADUN). (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from IDEAS website: https://www.ideas.org.my/publications-item/removal-or-reform-charting-the-way-forward-for-malaysias-constituency-development-funds-peruntukan-ahli-parlimen-dan-adun/
Sweden: Parliament Decides Absent Members Must Repay Salary. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2022, from Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA website: https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-11-30/sweden-parliament-decides-absent-members-must-repay-salary/
Syed Saddiq: Some politicians may be getting RM100,000 in monthly pension. (2021, September 29). Retrieved from The Edge Markets website: https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/syed-saddiq-some-politicians-may-be-getting-rm100000-monthly-pension
Times, N. S. (2021, October 5). C4 calls for asset declaration law to be given priority | New Straits Times. Retrieved March 2, 2022, from NST Online website: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/10/733879/c4-calls-asset-declaration-law-be-given-priority
What is a former prime minister entitled to? | The Malaysian Insight. (n.d.). Retrieved from www.themalaysianinsight.com website: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/351954#:~:text=THE%20Members%20of%20Parliament%20
Researchers: Lee Kah Kei, Jie Yee Ku, Muhammad Bahari
Reviewers: Jie Yee Ku, Muhammad Bahari, Faith Tan
Editor: Natalie Eng