By Singa Terhormat
Thank you for your comment dated January 1st addressed to me.
Let me say that your concern is indeed not without merit. However certain factors ought to be taken into account in viewing this matter.
Before I go into that, let me inform all here that just like Haris, I do not belong to any political party. I never have nor do I have any intention of doing so. Haris not being a member of PR or any other political party does not, nor is he in a position, to dictate PR policy. That is something for PR themselves to sort out.
I merely state facts as I see them and opinions that I have. PR or for that matter anyone, including you and Haris, may agree or disagree.
Now on to the matter of the civil servants. I think it is indisputable that our civil service is bloated and by extension a burden to the rakyat. You express concern that if PR comes to power they may halve the civil service. It is not my place to tell them what to do, but assuming they do come to power, I do not think that is a recourse that it will adopt. It is not the fault of any single civil servant that the civil service is bloated and therefore it is not right that any one of them has to be sacrificed in the process for mistakes made by the policy-makers. The blame lies with the political masters and it is they who should face the sack because of their unwillingness or inability to put things right.
Additionally, I am pretty sure PR will not be so foolish as to seek to halve the civil service immediately.
Why? For several reasons.
Firstly civil servants are governed by terms of employment where they cannot be easily nor summarilly dismissed. They are governed by General Orders setting out terms of employment. In the absence of gross misconduct on their part, it will be foolhardy to dismiss them. PR will not wish to tie themselves down having to face thousands and thousands of unfair dismissal cases in the Courts and face the possibility of having to stump out tens, if not hundreds, of million by way of compensation and possible re-instatement.
Secondly, PR will not wish to be a one-term party in power. As you rightly pointed out, there is always the risk of losing their votes.
What are the options then for PR? If my advice is asked for, there are a few.
1) The most obvious choice will be to maintain the present civil service strength but to cut down on recruitment so that there will be a gradual reduction over time until we have a lean, efficient civil service. Those who would otherwise have been recruited into the civil service will have to be deployed to other vocations that they have been adequately trained for and thereby lead to an overall increase in the productivity of the nation, as opposed to having a situation of two persons doing one person’s job.
2) As has been done before, there can be a general offer to serving civil servants to seek early retirement with compensation and with assistance provided to help them go into business. This will also help to reduce numbers and again lead to an increase in the nation’s productivity.
These two readily come to mind. There may be more and I am sure there will be many out there who can add to those. If we apply our minds to problems faced and are prepared to think creatively, there will always be solutions where the innocent are not disadvantaged.
In ending, I wish to state, Muhammad Azman, that your comment, views and concern is much appreciated. Like you, I eagerly await the march to Putrajaya.