In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This is the sixth post of a satirical series on how a billionaire secretly funds and forms the next Selangor administration. You can follow the series here.
The Monday morning press conference turnout didn’t disappoint.
Anticipating an extra large press corp turnout, the event had been moved to the largest hall within the state secretariat building. And as Jamilah walked in at precisely 9.29am, she noted that all the department heads and support staff who had been at the exco meeting earlier had also taken their allotted places at the back.
During the exco meeting, everyone had been warned not to leak any of the matters discussed until after 10am, which was exactly what Jamilah began the press conference with once the hall doors were locked. “We have installed a signal disruptor in this hall to ensure all mobile phones and any communication devices cannot be used until we unlock the doors at 10am,” she said, dismissing the ensuing wave of groans. To make doubly sure the embargo stayed intact, Charlene’s team was also monitoring various online and social networking sites, plus the airwaves as well.
When the protests died down, Jamilah got straight to the point. “The Amal administration has noted the countless reports and opinions published over the past few days on how we are about to bankrupt Selangor with our minimum wage plan for all state employees. So, before we reveal the details on the minimum wage plan, let me first address the issue of how we are going to make sure we have enough funds for what needs to be done right. We shouldn’t be called the Right Party if we’re going to do wrong, are we?”
Pausing for the sniggers to fade away, Jamilah continued. “Let me remind you of the announcement made immediately after the final state election results were confirmed. All contracts with the state are to be voided according to the stipulated termination clauses. We have given due notice of this intent. So, let me now explain how that’s going to work to make sure the state will always have enough funds for what we need to do.”
There was shocked silence as the import of these words sank in.
“At the exco meeting a short while ago, it was decided that all payments on contracts will be frozen after this month. To make sure everyone is clear, payments at the end of this month will be made in full and that will be the last unless and until the contract party submits a request for the agreement to continue. Subsequent payments will be made only if the state exco approves the continuance of such contracts.
“We are fully aware that some contracts have termination clauses that stipulate notice periods of up to 12 months or have some sort of penalties if voided. We will address those issues one at a time if and when the contract party makes the submission. Any contract party who refuses to make such a submission or takes us to court without going through this process will be blacklisted immediately from any dealings with the state administration during the next four plus years until the date of the next election, which we have also clearly announced.
“The only exceptions will be the utility firms for power, water, communications and sanitation. For those too, we will be holdings discussions over the next few weeks to discuss various rewards and penalties to ensure we’ll always have the highest service levels in Selangor.”
Jamilah’s gaze swept the hall, noting the largely shocked looks among the journalists. The state staff at the back were all tightlipped, fully aware of the consequences to what her administration had just unleashed. She was also too aware of the media headlines which had been predicted in Munusamy’s script and wondered idly if anyone would come up with her personal favourite “Robbing hoods”. This bombshell would surely dominate all media coverage over the next few days, overshadowing what she was about to say next. It would be exactly how Munusamy had planned it to be – slipping in essentials while everyone’s focus was distracted elsewhere.
“Now, on the minimum wage plan, here’s what we’re going to do. As stated earlier, the minimum monthly wage will be set at RM2,500. This applies to all staff who currently earn less than that and they include dispatch riders, receptionists and all kinds of support staff who are barely able to support themselves. These are people who can be valuable assets to Selangor when given the right motivation because they have stayed loyal to their jobs despite earning so very little.
“To make sure they earn RM2,500 monthly, the state will be paying them the extra amount. In other words, we will top up what they are already receiving from the federal government as they all remain staff employed via the Public Services Department. On top of that, we will also increase the salaries of those now earning between RM2,000 and RM2,999. All these individuals will now have their monthly salaries topped up to RM3,000.
“We would also like to inform you of future pay rises during our five-year administration mandate. From 1 July next year, the minimum wage has been set at RM3,000 and the amount will increase by RM300 every year from the same date. We intend to eventually have the minimum monthly wage set at RM6,000 – but you will have to vote us in again at the next state election for this to become possible.”
Eyes rolled at this not-so-subtle political campaigning and Jamilah simply smiled while she checked if anyone had any doubts about what she had just said. Noting none, she continued: “The pay rise also means state employees will have to become more productive. Details of what we expect will be announced over the next few weeks. Here are some of the major changes we will be instituting:
“Firstly, all state administrative hours will be extended to better serve the public. Four months from now, all state offices will be open from 7.30am to 7.30pm. As such, all state staff will be required to work a minimum of 10 hours daily and there will be flexible meals hours to ensure there’s always someone available to attend to the public at all times while the office is open. During the fasting month, all Muslim staff can leave at 5.30pm. We have consulted the department heads and they say many of the staff are already working such long hours and that it won’t be difficult to make the necessary adjustments.
“There will no longer be any overtime payments from then and the RM2,500 minimum wages will also be paid only from this period onwards. The current salaries will remain during the next three months and we will be announcing several other changes to cater for the work-hour adjustments, including staff with families to take care of and also their school-going children. The department heads have been instructed to come up with proposals related to this and we will be announcing our decision on such issues within the next few weeks as well. There will also be some form of monitoring and penalties for anyone who fails to meet work expectations or abuses the system.
“Lastly, the full video recording of this press conference will posted on the state website from 10am and as usual, the exco meeting minutes will be available from 7pm. We will also post the full agenda for the next exco meeting then. We have given full authorisation to every state employee to speak to the media with absolutely no restrictions whatsoever on this matter and so, feel free to speak to the department heads and their staff at the back of this hall on what I’ve just announced.”
All the journalists turned and saw the various state employees seated at designated desks at the back of the hall. And while they did so, Jamilah and the state exco members slipped out of the exit behind the rostrum.