By Hafiz Hassan

THE Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980 (Act 237) was passed by Parliament and came into force on July 1, 1980. The Act is to provide for the remuneration of Members of Parliament and for other matters incidental thereto or connected therewith.

Section 8 states that a Member of Parliament (either House) shall be entitled to such pension, gratuity and other benefits as are prescribed in the First Schedule.

Paragraph 21 of the First Schedule provides for “Benefits for former Prime Ministers”. As of April 9, 2003 paragraph 21(1) reads as follow:

“A person who ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister, or a person who had previously held the office of Prime Minister before the date of the coming into force of this Act, shall be entitled to such allowances and privileges at such rates and on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Cabinet from time to time.”

Prior to that, the paragraph read as follow:

“A person who ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister, or a person who had previously held the office of Prime Minister before the date of the coming into force of this Act, and is not currently a Member shall be entitled to such allowances and privileges at such rates and on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Cabinet from time to time.” (Emphasis added)

The word “Member” means, among others, a Member of Parliament. The words “and is not currently a Member” in the above provision were deleted by the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) (Amendment of First Schedule) (No. 3) Order 2003 and was deemed to have come into operation on April 9, 2003.

The deletion was pursuant to the exercise of the powers conferred to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by paragraph 19A of the First Schedule to the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980 [Act 237] .

The Agong acts on advice of the prime minister. The prime minister was then Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who left the office of the Prime Minister in October 2003.

So, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is entitled to the benefits for former prime ministers “on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Cabinet from time to time.”

Najib would not have been entitled to the benefits under the old paragraph which required him not to be “currently a Member [of Parliament]”.

Be that as it may, the current prime minister may advise the Agong to reinstate the old paragraph. That would mean the only former prime minister entitled to the benefits would be Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

That would also mean savings of the government coffers, which could be spent on health and education. A Supplementary Supply Bill on these two sectors would serve the people better. – BebasNews

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