‘I am underpaid,’ Mahathir laments


KUALA LUMPUR, AFP

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has lamented that he is “underpaid,” according to a report Sunday.

Mahathir, who earns 16,000 ringgit (US$4,210) a month, dismissed opposition claims that he was wasting taxpayers’ money by spending time on party politics rather than running the country.

“They never comment when I work practically 24 hours a day. In one day, I work a minimum of 16 hours so if you add up the eight extra hours that I have worked for the government every day for the past 19 years, they will know that I have been underpaid,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by the Sunday Star newspaper.

“If I claim overtime and add that up, I think the government owes me millions of dollars.”

Mahathir, 75, said unlike judges who were given pensions and gratuities twice when they are 55 and 65, he had not received a pension, although he had served the government since 1974.

“My pay is lower than people who work under me, like Petronas chairman or whoever. They get 30,000 ringgit to 50,000 ringgit a month.

“I want to know who says I am wasting the government’s money and I want to see what is he doing for the government,” Mahathir said.

On Sept. 11, Mahathir announced that he would concentrate increasingly on party politics while his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would take on more of the responsibilities of the premier.