Thursday, May 28, 2009

Malaysia’s Civil Service

Recently, the PM proposed to open the civil service to the private sector. When he was the Deputy Prime Minister, this idea was brought up by himself in the Cabinet for general discussion. He even suggested that leading corporate figures and retired government civil servants should also be co-opted into the academic world. Students in the tertiary education then stands to benefit from the rich experience from the captain of the industries and top civil servants. This is rightly practiced in many countries. In America, the retired Secretary of State always ends up in important academic position. Tapping the private sector makes sense since they know not only the theory, but also the practical aspect of implementation and problem in dealing with government agencies.

Mixing the private sector with the civil service hopefully will give rise to a better cross-fertilization of ideas and practices, which are sadly lacking in the government service. It will also give the private sector an insight into the constraint of the civil service and the government machineries. The government delivery system is often bogged down with bureaucracy and having to work within the rather rigid general orders of the civil service.

In Malaysia, there is a clear dichotomy of service between the private and public sectors. The moment they leave the civil service to join the private sector, they lose their seniority and hardly ever had a chance to go back to civil service. The Malaysia civil service provides employment from the cradle to the grave. It is difficult to sack a civil servant, unless there are clear violations of the general orders. Hence, we have a lot of dead woods warming the seats. Some become what we call the little Napoleons and Josephines. They do not become facilitators to help the public. They do not serve the Rakyat but Lord over them. They construct all sorts of man-made barriers to make an average man dealing with the government with a bad taste. Bad civil service reflects poorly on the government of the day. Often, it is the politicians who stand for public office that gets the blame.

We have a bloated civil service of nearly 1.15 millions. With a population of 27million people, we have one of the higher ratios of civil servant to population. Despite aggressive privatization in the early 90s, the numbers of civil servant keep on increasing slowly but surely. The rising maintenance cost of the civil service is a major problem, about 41 billion a year. The biggest problem is inefficiency in the public delivery system. Since civil service provides lifelong employment, there seems to be ‘tidak apa’ attitude by some civil servants. Over the year, it has becomes the budaya or culture of these small group of civil servants. They obviously serve to damage the image of the public delivery system. To be fair, there are a lot of civil servants who are very good, professional and dedicated. Unfortunately, over the year this is getting smaller. While I was in the government, from the state to the federal level, I met some of these civil servants who will do the country proud, at the same time I also met a lot who don’t deserved a cent worth for their work.

Walk into any government office one is strike by the predominance of one ethnic group.

These ethnic imbalances get more glaring over the years. Today, about 77% of the government servants are Malays, only 15% are non-Malays and the others contribute 8%. To ratify this imbalance would take decades. Of course when this is raised, some will point out that the private sector is also dominated by one particular race. When the private sector places emphasis of the command of Mandarin, this is construed as discriminatory.

Remuneration cannot be a reason for the lack of interest for the civil service by the non-Malays. In fact, in some of the government services, the total package remuneration is not too bad when compared to the private sector. In order to attract the brightest and the committed, promotion should be based on performance and qualification, and not by who you know within the service. Right now, the general perception is that the government service is only for the Malays and the non-Malays have no chance in career advancement within the civil service. Until we show more transparency and professionalism in recruitment and promotion of civil servant, it is unlikely that we will attract the brightest. The non-Malays will continue to shun the civil service.







joenathan said...

Dr Chua,

There are some bunch of bumi drs who are PSD scholarship holders,and were educated in Australia,whining and complaining all the time just because they have to serve the govt for 10 yrs.And these are the people who were sent abroad,using tax payers money..Are you aware that many of them try to get posted to non-clinical departments,to have an easy life?Do you think,these people have an aptitude to become doctors and serve the sick with dedication?I am sure,you are aware of all these facts when you were the health minister,but you chose to close one eye.Now you are talking about,civil service?Tell us what you intend to do,to improve it?That is what the public want to hear,not just ranting away.

Unknown said...

The much awaited PKFZ report (probably the biggest ever financial scandals) has just been released today !!!! - Dr. Chua, dare you write something to critise the BN government and touch your beloved Tun Ling/ BN backbencher club president?

BN is even far more inefficient and corrupted than we could imagine !!!(may be the content of the report has already been diluted in terms of its intensity to hide certain names...sigh)

Dr Chua, can u show us your usual courage by issuing a statement in questioning BN's integrity on this? Please respond. We young people like to hear what BN/MCA has to say (especially this scandals involved MCA Tai-kor like Ling Liong Sik, Chan Kong Choy etc)

WHAT A CRAP!!!! if Rakyat are not awaken by this stupid scandals and SIN committed by Barisan Nasional/MCA I am really speechless!!! When it comes to petrol/diesel subsidies, school fund allocation, public healthcare, small by-election in Penanti etc etc - BN said government has no money, we must tighten our belt, be thrifty and bla bla bla all the they have wasted so much of our money for its cronies(ASTRONOMICAL FIGURE!!!!!!!!) - BN is not fit to govern this country any more!!!!!

Dr Chua, you should jump ship if you still want to serve the Rakyat as you claim!

D'evil said...

Dear Datuk Seri.

The title should be Malaysia's Uncivil Service. I believe any civil servant deserve his or her pay at all. Because of The Policy, the Incivil Service has employed the dregs of the employment market and the un-employables.

The politicians have created this monster. It is high time this monster get dismantled.

Donplaypuks® said...

Dear YB

At $41 billion per year, I'm sure there's a lot of fat there in the Civil Service that can be trimmed.

What we need is a lean and mean fighting machine that is as efficient as Singapore and professionally respecetd as that of France.

Before establishing KPI's, we should determine the CS staff strength for a country of our size and population with a buitt in growth factor for future needs.

Otw, the future wage and pension cost, not to mention subsidies on health, transport and welfare will truly bankrupt M'sia!!

Why not MCA get a Parliamentary Committee going on this?

tc88 said...

Very well said.

In Malaysia, the best brains and most capable seem to shy away from the civil service, opting for the private sector or become entrepreneurs. Why? Is it because the private sector pays better? On the surface, it appears to be so. However when you input the pension and medical benefits entitlement, the latter including the spouse, then the overall compensation package offered in the civil service is comparable, particularly when 20 to 30% of the package is not taxable or taxed on a benefits-in-kind status.

If not compensation, then why do the best brains and most capable shun the civil service?

In Japan, the best graduates and brains choose to join the civil service with the MITI and Ministry of Finance their top choices. In Singapore, the Government taps the best, talented, proven and experienced for top jobs in the civil service and to serve as MPs or Ministers. Lee Kuan Yew called it "national service". That the Malaysian economy lagged behind Japan and Singapore is probably capable malaysians opt to work overseas or the private sectors. Both Japan and Singapore lacked the natural resources Malaysia has, yet the Yen has risen to thrice the value of the ringgit in less than 25 years. The Singapore dollar is almost 2.5 times the ringgit, yet we were once the same country.

Why? It certainly does not take a genious or an Einstein or a Dr M to figure that out. Ah Chong, Ali and Samy knows the answer. We only choose to ignore it.

TC 88

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara DatoSeri Chua Sua Lek

也请马华公会总会长,署理会长, 有关的部长,国会议员,州议员关注彭亨劳勿武吉公满[山埃事件] TOLONG TOLONG

南洋閩學網誌 said...

Saudara DrChua Soi Lek

Since you started the blog you have not mentioned about the kampong Koman cynide issue which have attention from Malaysia as well as abroad.
You ask the chief of Public Service bureau, Have you brought up the case to MP of Raub or not.

In my opinion the minister in charge of tourism should be sensitive to this issue, as we are now promoting ecotourism , health and medical tourism .
If the situation go out of control ,it is going to impair our effort in promoting ecotourism , health and medical tourism .

One of the residents in Kampong Koman had ever worked in hospital made the following coment on public servant

They are not working for mine ,they are working for people , Datok HO KA MUN dont simply say, checking the cynide level without using instrument

they are not coming here for holiday.

"The biggest problem is inefficiency in the public delivery system. Since civil service provides lifelong employment, there seems to be ‘tidak apa’ attitude by some civil servants. Over the year, it has becomes the budaya or culture of these small group of civil servants. They obviously serve to damage the image of the public delivery system."

Unknown said...

that is why government in the past has increased the salary and benefit for public servant which is now almost compatible to private sectore! ask how much a teacher (fresh) earn in total? Not to surprise that a fresh graduate may not get so much in private sector. So believe the main reason is now on the fairness of year end appraisal and promotion disregard of races. Can the BN government ensure this in the year to come?

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara Dato Seri DrChua Soi Lek

I sincerely ask you to talk on Kampung Bukit Koman cyanide issue to the following reasons in your capacity as MCA head of bureau of monitoring of public services
i) Dato Subramaniam , human resources minister ,ii)Dato Ng Yen Yen ,the minister of tourism who is also the MP for Raub
iii)Minister of science and environment.iv)Other relevant public service officers
According Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994(OSHA1994), cynide is classified as toxic substance under toxic substance schedule. Moreover it is the duty of the plant safety inspector appointed by the ministry of human resources to carry ou investigation upon receiving complain from public about safety hazard of a concerenrd plant. It is also the duty of the inspector concerned to give order for the concerned plant to improve the condition within a specified duration ,if the plant concerned failed to comply ,then that plant need to stop operation until problems are fixed.
It is also the duty of MP of Raub to TURUN KE PADANG(go to the real spot)to listen to the grievance of the people in the constituency she serve to help to solve their problem

I sincerely ask you to communicate with officers of the ministry of science and environment , because we canot discount the possibility of river pollution caused by cyanide discharged that may affect the growth of fauna and flora in the place.
Thank you and Best Regard

Anonymous said...

If retired government civil servants lived through those times and they did not show anything in their service that is extraordinary in relation to the present time, why should they come back into the service ? If they come back, they will only be bringing with them what they already know. Their experiences of years ago. Some of these experiences can be bad to others. If they themselves were not good leaders then, they would not be good leaders now. They will be a hindrance to others. Bring back those with a vision for the future. Bring back those who give opportunity to everyone and not selected few. Malaysia does not have to follow all the ways of U.S. because if she does, she will also follow her way into bankruptcy. A leader who believes in war will find it hard to talk about peace. There are many great ideas in the government service but these ideas are not followed through. Just when someone sets a higher standard, someone else is ever ready to lower the standard. It is hard to keep track of the near 1.2 million civil servants across the country. There are so much hanky panky when the boss is not around. Not all the civil servants have this don't care attitude. Some care but they are influenced into not caring. Some never care from the first day they enter the service. Some care consistently. Some care but they are too rigid. Cronyism and neopotism are still practised. It is ridiculous promoting or awarding one that is so undeserving but because of the ties that she has. But this sort of practise still goes on. Some of these wrong practises are so obvious. So obvious that the boss prefers to remain blind and refuse to rectify the mistake. And these are not necessarily the senior ones. The junior ones learn how to play office politics too. The clever people want to join the service but everytime, the offer letter goes to someone not so clever. Why ? Because of religion ? Because of race ? Because of helping their own folks ? Because small Napoleons and small Josephines are pulling the strings which the boss never suspects ? Never underestimate small people. They can sabotage. Bosses never deals with paperwork. It is their small people who are doing that. Unless the government decides one fine day to stop all these traditions, then may be we will see a real improvement in the public service. JPA cannot be only telling the civil servants to work properly. They should make sure and see to it that these civil servants actually work and work properly.

呉 和豪 said...

Saudara Dato Seri Chua Soi Lek

Once again I ask you to follow up
on Cyanide Issue in Bukit Kampong Koman in Raub Pahang

笔者过去曾在槟城Bayan Lepas一间电镀担任品质稽查员(QA Auditor),对于空气或废水山埃浓渡过高的事件绝不软手,一旦发现山埃浓度极高必下令工厂停止操作,直到工厂的操作环境恢复正常为止。

呉 和豪 said...

从电视银幕看到 无情的[神手]在短短几分钟把数间为于增江淡峇漢的木屋铲平,使这里居住40多
作风。 我不难了解当地居民对于他们家园的情感及执着, 因为他们用了很多功夫才能在这块原
本是废矿地建立家园。在这里居住的居民包括了来自各阶层的工人, 小贩,小型工业者,他们对

呉 和豪 said...

的作风吗?我记得在大选的时候民聯以[與民同在] ,[以民为先],[为马来西亚带来新希望]等的
自308以来民聯實權領袖拿督安華衣佈拉欣 就是在忙于制造補選,夺权的游戏而似乎忘了他

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