JUNE 7 — It is encouraging that the Public Service Commission (PSC) will now study the reasons for the poor number of applications from non-Bumiputeras for public and civil service jobs.
I would like to congratulate the new chairman of the PSC, Tan Sri Mahmood Adam, for his prestigious appointment and for taking this constructive initiative to institute a study, which has been long overdue, so soon after he assumed duty on May 31.
He has said that out of the 1.1 million applicants for government posts, Chinese and Indians made up only five per cent! He stated that this big difference in the application ratio has been the trend since 2009. However I believe that there has been a steady decline in this application ratio for a long time, since even the 1970s. I would also ask my former colleague Mahmood to please check on the accuracy of this ratio and declining trend as many non-Bumiputera applications could have been excluded in compiling the statistics. I hope that these statistics will be made public as the Civil Service List is no longer published.
The PSC should be more transparent and address the common questions raised by the public. For instance, why would non-Malays not want to apply to join the public service? The PSC thinks that it could be because of the lack of awareness about civil service jobs or that it is not attractive enough for them. But how can they be unaware of civil service jobs when these jobs are presumably advertised widely? And today, after so many generous salary improvements and attractive terms of service, the civil service is pretty well paid and even pampered at some levels?
Furthermore, with so many unemployed graduates, why would they not apply for government jobs? Could it be because they feel that there is no point in applying for government jobs after repeated rejections? After all government offer unique experiences which can stand them in good stead if they want to join the private sector later in their career ?
Actually I believe that there are strong perceptions among many non-Bumiputeras that the public service is monopolised by the Bumiputeras and that it is meant mainly for them. Non-Bumiputeras hear about the low recruitment rates for non-Bumiputeras and the poorer prospects of promotions for non-Bumiputeras. They believe that even when they are promoted, the promotion posts are not the more attractive nor professionally satisfying jobs.
Having been a former senior civil servant, I am therefore very interested in maintaining the high standards of the public service, which is the "tulang belakang" or backbone of the whole government administration. The above comments are therefore my sincere feedback to the PSC for its study to improve the public service to more effectively respond to our prime minister's call — to serve the People First and to Perform Now.
But I hope that the PSC study will be undertaken by an independent panel which would include all major stakeholders, in a balanced manner, to have greater public credibility and acceptability.
The recruitment into the public service in the past when I joined the service was based on a ratio of four Bumiputeras to one non-Bumiputera. That reasonable ratio is now no more. Hence we see a vastly dominated Bumiputera public service which could in time lose its Malaysian character. This would reduce its ability to empathetically serve a more sophisticated multiracial and multi religious society in the future
I would also request the government to re-introduce the former ethnic ratios for recruitment into the public service, including the teaching profession. Then the unbalanced ethnic composition of the present public service will be rectified, resulting in greater national unity and peace and stability in our beloved country
* Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is chairman of the Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies.
* 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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