Our civil service

Posted on December 31, 2012




By Singa Terhormat


In an earlier posting, I had postulated on how the Government had screwed the Malays and the country.

Having produced numerous degree and diploma-holders that were unemployable because they lacked skills for the private sector or to become entrepreneurs operating their own businesses, the Government then proceeded to accommodate them by employing them and bloating the civil service.

With a population of 26 million, Malaysia has 1.3 million civil servants— one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world. And the numbers are growing. The PM’s Department, for instance, has a workforce in excess of 40.000 persons. In comparison it is reported that the White House has a staff strength of approximately 2,000 persons.

Taking statistics for 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was about the highest in the Asia Pacific region.

The relevant figures are as follows:






Hong Kong————————————-2.3%


Now those who work in the civil service enjoy various employment perks including subsidized car and housing loans, medical care and pensions. These are funded by the taxes the rakyat pays for.

Having such a bloated civil service is obviously an unnecessary burden that the rakyat has to bear.

Amazingly unknown to or ignored by many civil servants here, the rakyat are their true employers to who they owe their primary obligation to. Their bosses are certainly not the heads of their departments or superiors— many of who arrived at their positions by ‘sucking up” to the political leaders— but who in any event are also paid their salaries and perks by the rakyat. Often we find that their primary concern is in attending “lawatan sambil belajar” or seminars and conferences in faraway exotic places or organizing Hari Keluarga and the like for their respective Departments.

Many civil servants including those in the Election Commission, police force and various other Government departments and agencies think they owe a living to the ruling party and so “dance according to the music” of politicians in Government and willingly act against the interests of their true employers, the rakyat,

Having more than double the number of civil servants-to- population ratio than many other countries and whose salaries and perks are paid for by the public, ought not the public expect service from the public sector that is superior to that in those other countries?

Disappointingly what we largely get is dismal service dished out by civil servants who are ill-equipped and poorly-motivated for their jobs and who often do not care a damn about the service provided. To use part of a quotation ascribed to Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, in describing India’s civil service under the British, our civil service is neither civil nor service.

Tun Musa Hitam once drew a parallel between those who work in Government (which will include politicians and civil servants) and housemaids. Just as one will pay a housemaid a salary and provide board and lodging to that housemaid so she can work comfortably and follow one’s instructions and perform her duties to one’s satisfaction, so too does the rakyat pay a civil servant’s salary and provide other perks so he/she can work comfortably and follow the rakyat’s instructions and perform his/her job to the rakyat’s satisfaction.

We certainly will expect our housemaid to be competent and hardworking. We certainly will not tolerate our housemaid taking control of the house and becoming bossy or ‘talking down’ to us. We certainly will not tolerate our housemaid threatening us and even locking us up in the ‘store-room’ whenever she deems fit. Such a housemaid would be disciplined and likely have her services terminated.

We certainly too will not employ two housemaids when one would suffice.

The Barisan Nasional Government in having molly-coddled our civil servants and in having bloated our civil service to unprecedented heights to accommodate the under-qualified graduates and diploma-holders it has produced has done the nation a great disservice. As a result of having an ill-equipped civil service, today we find instances galore of ill-thought of policies, poor-planning and poor-implementation, and all at great and unnecessary cost to the rakyat.

It has gravely affected the productivity of this nation. Where we were once on par with Singapore in so many matters, we have sadly been left far behind through abject mismanagement.

As in any organization that fails to perform or is unsuccessful, the management of that organization has to take responsibility and bear the brunt of its failures.

Where the management has failed miserably, then it ought to be replaced.

It is time to be rid of the Barisan Nasional.