Malaysia’s king has offered to take a pay cut as the country grapples with a surprise national debt of $251 billion.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong XV Sultan Muhammad V said he will take a 10% cut to his salary and emoluments through until the end of his reign in 2021 in response to an outpouring of donations from Malaysian citizens to help pay off the country’s national debt.
The Royal Palace Comptroller Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said on Tuesday the king was “deeply touched” by crowdfunding donations and wanted to “join the people in doing his duty.”
The king receives more than 1.05 million ringgit (around $US260,000), including a privy purse 608,400, plus expenses, annually.
Last month the the country’s new government discovered a national debt of one trillion ringgit (about $251 billion), which is 80% of the country’s GDP, shortly after taking office.
Citizens independently began crowdfunding campaigns to help pay off the debt. In response, the finance ministry set up the Malaysia Hope Fund to provide a “systematic and transparent platform” to donate directly to a government bank account.
The finance minister also promised to publicly update its crowdfunding tally every day. As of June 12, less than two weeks after launching, the Malaysia Hope Fund has received 61 million ringgit ($15.3 million).
The outpouring of donations followed May’s election where a global network of volunteers coordinated the delivery of votes from thousands of citizens abroad into local ballot boxes.
The result saw former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had been plagued by financial scandals in his last years in office, hand power to the opposition alliance for the first time. Najib is blacklisted from leaving the country and police have raided properties linked to his family, seizing $28.6 million-worth of cash and 284 luxury handbags.
Last month, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also announced cabinet ministers had agreed to take a 10% pay cut.