A properly governed society needs more than just clinical decision making from those at the helm. Politicians need to be a source of motivation to those they govern, whether in word, action or directive. Isn’t that why they are required to conduct themselves with dignity and decorum when in office, or aspiring for such? How much of this actually happens in the fish market of a Parliament we have in this country remains debatable. But it is here our bone of contention lies today. A proposal was put forward by government last week to increase the pension packages for the Prime Minister, President and judges. The Bill also proposes a revision of those retiring allowances and pensions every half a decade.
Exactly what example is being sent to the citizenry of this country by tabling such a Bill? Are these individuals really in dire need of increases? And to have it automatically reviewed every 5 years is just adding insult to injury. What about those employed within the public service who wait indefinitely in some cases to have their salaries reviewed or their arrears meted out? They, and the remaining honest-working population of the country, should be the ones given urgency when talking salary increases. They are ones who have to face the spiraling inflation when heading to the grocery, gas station, pharmacy and everywhere else it has gotten grip of.
We applaud the Opposition for negating the proposal, at least according to MP Dr. Roodal Moonilal. Whether a political gesture or not, it still sends the right message to the population – that they are not willing to condone such self-serving intentions by Government. Whether the Opposition remains with this stance if elected is another story.
Many world leaders have led by example. Most recently, President of Mexico López Obrador cut his salary to less than half of his predecessor’s. Former Uruguayan Premier Jose Mujica donated almost 90% of his salary and in 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a 10% cut to his and his staff’s salaries amid rising food prices. None of these leaders lived in destitution, but the mere act is a signal that they were serious about governing by example.
Can we see our leaders, our statesmen, our judicial decision makers taking a stance of solidarity with the common man, or at least be contented with the already bountiful benefits their positions bring? Or have they forgotten their real function? This move is further validation of the belief of many that politicians are here to serve themselves only.
What adds even more insult is that attempts may be made via gimmickry to validate this selfish proposal, attempts that would be met with resounding cheers from some quarters.