NOV 11 — The rumoured Pakatan Rakyat proposal to reduce the number of the 1.3 million civil servants if it wins the general election was clarified as a "misunderstanding" spread by the Utusan Malaysia.
If Pakatan Rakyat really wants to reduce public sector spending, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim would not have announced that all employees of Selangor state government-linked companies will be paid a minimum wage of RM1,500 and the Penang state government would not have set a minimum bonus of a half-month salary or RM800 for state civil servants this year, which is RM300 more than the federal government's minimum of RM500.
Pakatan Rakyat has been giving more benefits to civil servants compared to the federal government. Isn't it a joke to say that it is going to reduce the number of civil servants if it wins the general election?
As expected, Pakatan Rakyat promised that the status of the 1.3 million civil servants would be secured as provided for in the Federal Constitution under Article 132 for Public Services and Article 135 of the Restriction on Dismissals and Reduction in Rank, if it wins the general election.
Why doesn't Pakatan Rakyat dare to reduce the number of civil servants? If there are four votes in each of the 1.3 million civil servants' families, there will be 5.2 million votes. Therefore, even though the DAP knows that downsizing is beneficial to the country, they cannot and dare not to do it at this stage.
At the same time, the BN also relies on votes from civil servants to consolidate its power. Therefore, it will not mention about how administrative expenditure has nibbled at the national development funds. Instead, it keeps praising the contributions of civil servants.
For example, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said that the DAP's proposal of downsizing has not only insulted civil servants who have played an important role in the transformation of the country from a poor to modern nation, but as well shown that it was not having gratitude for civil servants.
Perhaps, it is excessive to have gratitude for them. After all, civil servants are also known as "public servants" who are paid to serve. It is their responsibility to perform all their duties well since they are paid by the people even in their retirement. It is weird to have gratitude for them when many errors are made and efficiency is low in many cases.
Even more exasperating, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad actually proposed to reduce the number of civil servants through privatisation.
The so-called privatisation policy during his administration had not only failed to reduce the number of civil servants, but at the same time expanded the executive team. The privatisation projects had then become a national financial commitment.
One of the reasons for not reducing the number of civil servants is the increase in population. Based on Malaysian's fertility, population growth is inevitable. However, does this mean that we should allow unrestrained expansion of the executive team?
The civil service to the population of Malaysia is proportionately higher than other countries at 4.68 per cent. If we measure with productivity, the returns we get after paying them RM45.6 billion of salary does not seem high.
My concern is, when more and more people are supported by the government, it might form another "dependency culture", just like how the Class F contractors rely on government projects.
Enhancing public sector performance is an important national reform. If the executive team is overweight and the national debt continues to rise, a massive layoff is inevitable and the pain will be doubled, just like in Greece today.
However, it is something not to be discussed and mentioned due to political concerns. It is easy to have a layoff in private companies but it will be difficult even to dismiss even one civil servant. — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication, and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
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