Announcement of generous salary increments to local Sarawak community leaders days before the general election has upset the state opposition.
KUCHING: Sarawak opposition fears that the generous salary increases announced by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud could affect the results of the May 5 parliamentary elections in state.
Accusing Taib of bribery, Sarawak PKR vice president See Chee How said: “This is really a corrupt practice committed by Barisan Nasional.
“Such an increase of salaries of community leaders just before the general election can also affect the results of the general election. ”
See said they had lodged a formal complaint regarding the announcement with the Bersih Committee in Kuala Lumpur.
Taib had announced yesterday that community leaders will receive a salary increase of between RM400-RM650 each.
A Temenggong, which is the highest ranked community leader will see his salary increased from RM850 to RM1,500 per month, a Pemanca from RM700 to RM1,200 and a Penghulu from RM600 to RM1,000.
Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) and Ketua Kampung (village chief) meanwhile will have their salary increased from RM450 to RM800.
Taib said that all salary increases would take effect from Jan 1, 2013.
Responding to the announcement, See reminded that Taib had made similar promises prior to the 2006 state polls but failed to keep his word. Intimidating voters On a related matter, See, who is the Batu Lintang assemblyman, accused BN campaigners of threatening to terminate the services of community leaders if they were seen supporting the opposition candidates.
“We will stand behind them if they are victimised by the BN government. This was what happened in the last state election.
“We brought the case to court and won the judicial review,” he said.
See said that terminating the services of community leaders on the ground that they supported the opposition was not a good ground.
“You cannot ask them to support Barisan. It is their choice.
“It is not only a corrupt practice, but blackmail if you say that you will raise the community leaders’ salaries if they support BN, and terminate their services if they are seen supporting opposition candidates,” he said.
PKR which is part of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition is contesting in 14 parliamentary seats and is expecting to do well, although BN intelligence has dismissed their enthusiasm as sheer bravado.
The party, together with its coalition partner DAP, is expected to give BN tough fights in 11 constituencies considered to be ‘hotseats’.
In the 2008 general election Taib-led BN swept all but one seat – Bandar Kuching – which went to DAP.