26 September 2023

MALAYSIA: Extra pay for multilingual diplomats

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The Malaysian Government has increased the monthly allowances for its diplomats serving abroad who pick up foreign languages to use in the course of their duty.

However, Head of the Public Service Department, Mohd Shafiq Abdullah said this would not affect the Department’s policy on the use of the Indigenous Malay language at in-country international functions, and it would not be paying any allowance for officers with English language skills.

Eligible Public Servants are allowed to claim for a maximum of two foreign languages each.

Languages that qualify are Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, French, Russian, Spanish and any other official languages of the country they serve in.

Mr Shafiq’s circular states that the monthly allowances for those with intermediate certificates will be increased from RM150 ($A48) per month to RM200 ($A64.50).

For advanced level qualifications, the incentive allowance, now RM250 ($A80.60), is to be raised to RM300 ($A96.70) from 1 January next year.

The special allowances for foreign language skills were first introduced in 2009.

“In line with the expansion of international ties between Malaysia and other countries, the use of foreign languages to communicate is important to help ease diplomatic and trade discussions abroad,” Mr Shafiq (pictured) said.

He said those who qualify for the allowances were officers serving abroad using foreign languages in the course of their duties and those in Malaysia who were asked to conduct international diplomatic or trade discussions.

“Those using foreign languages while abroad for meetings will be paid on a pro-rated basis for the period they are there,” Mr Shafiq said.

“Officers who return from serving abroad and who no longer have to use the foreign languages in their work will cease receiving the allowances.”

In February, Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysian representatives would use Malay at every official function they were involved in, including at international meetings, as part of efforts to strengthen the national language.

Kuala Lumpur, 6 August 2022

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