Monday, October 17, 2011

Bajet 2012 : Kerajaan terlampau besar dan membazir adalah masalah terpenting

Deflate the bloated civil service

Selena Tay | October 12, 2011
It is time the government addresses the issue of the overbloated civil service.
The 2012 Budget has failed to address the serious issues of soaring prices, rising inflation, minimum wage, corruption, cronyism, wastages and leakages in government departments but make no bones about it.
Malaysia’s civil service has got to go on record as being the most overbloated in the world. As at 2010, it numbers about 1.2 million employees on the government payroll out of a population of 28 million. What gives?
The civil service has been expanding rapidly since the 1990s and its growth has been accelerated especially fast since 2007. In 1990, the government had 773,997 employees, by the year 2000 there were 894,788 staff members and by 2010 about 1.2 million.
One of the key objectives of privatisation under the then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was to increase the efficiency of the delivery system and to reduce the civil service staff members to just above 500,000. Therefore, it could be said that the privatisation exercises were a complete and dismal failure in creating a lean and efficient civil service as the number now is more than twice its targetted size of 500,000.
The overbloated civil service has for the most part to do with the government’s policy of making our civil service the job saviour for the unemployable graduates, at least 70% of whom were Bumiputeras.
This will result in a poor quality workforce but worse than that it also depletes the government’s treasury. The Budget will be negatively impacted for the present and future years if the government does not restructure the civil service. Their pay rise itself will be a waste of public funds if there is a lack of efficiency and productivity.
‘Iron rice bowl’

In fact the civil service is none other than an “iron rice bowl” for no one can recall the government sacking any of its under-performing staff. Civil service staff, for example teachers who are racists are merely transferred to another school where they can still remain safely and securely employed even if they have done a disservice to the nation by inculcating young minds with racists tendencies.
This simply means that their paychecks are safely guaranteed by the government for the rest of their lives. This spurs them on to vote for Barisan Nasional come what may. Thus, their loyalty is secured as their morality and conscience go down the drain.
In 2005, the government’s emoluments expenses to maintain the civil service is RM25.6 billion and in 2008 it was RM41 billion (an increase of 60.2%). The civil service, therefore, is a heavy burden on emoluments as a percentage of Malaysia’s financial budget.
From taking up 23.3% of the nation’s operating budget in 2006, it has been nothing but a yearly increase as it grew to 25.5% in 2007, 28.1% in 2008, 24.6% in 2009 and 33.1% in 2010 in spite of the yearly massive increase in operating expenditure from 101.2 billion in 2006 to RM154.2 billion three years later in 2009.
If you take pensions into account, emoluments and pensions as a percentage of the government’s operating expenditure, the increase is from 29.8% in 2006 to 41.6% in 2010. Despite the fact that the annual budget is always increasing, the emoluments and pensions percentage proportion of the Budget is also ballooning!
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) shows Malaysia having the highest ratio of civil servants to the population in the Asia-Pacific region at 4.68% with Indonesia having 1.79%, Philippines 1.81%, South Korea 1.85% and Thailand 2.06%. Therefore the overbloated civil service is a major contributory factor to the financial burden of the government.
In 2007, the government created 2,000 jobs in the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to give jobs to unemployed graduates as “price monitors”. Their job was to jot down the prices of goods at wet markets, supermarkets and hypermarts. What is the purpose of this job is anyone’s guess.
Hugely inflated PM’s Department

In March 2009, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who at that time was already the finance minister announced that the government will recruit 63,000 staff. However, the worst civil service department is none than than the Prime Minister’s Department in terms of unwieldy numbers.
In 2001, there were 9,673 staff, in 2003 there were 21,045 and in 2009 it was 25,332. But it was in 2010 that the figure rose tremendously to 43,544 which is an increase of 71.9%. Compare that to the Executive Office of the United States President at the White House where there are only about 2,000 employees.
According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Abdul Aziz, the increase was due to the “creation of new agencies” within the department as well as the addition of posts in a few existing agencies.
In the Prime Minister’s Department, besides the personal officers of the prime minister and his deputy, there are five full ministers, five deputy ministers, ministerial advisers and 45 other agencies.
Some of these agencies such as MACC, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Election Commission, Human Rights Commission and Public Complaints Bureau should have been placed under the jurisdiction of Parliament. Placing them under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s Department makes the PM’s Department like a “rojak”.
For instance, the Land and Public Transport Commission (SPAD) which should fall under the Ministry of Transport is also under the Prime Minister’s Department.
It is time the government take serious steps to address the issue of the overbloated civil service. Otherwise the rakyat’s suspicions that the civil service is created to be the BN government’s vote bank is not far from the truth.
Selena Tay is a firm supporter of Pakatan Rakyat, being a DAP member, and a FMT columnist.


  1. I honestly think that this writer is too outlandish when she wrote her views on this subject. Her approach of simple mathematics and boiling it to immediate conclusions does not reflect good objectivity on the subject.

    I understand her motives in so writing. She, is as she described herself a firm supporter of Pakatan Rakyat and a DAP member. Thus it would not be surprising for her to write at length, to create an impression that all is not well in our country. This article is in dire need for objectivity.

    To fortify my view on this, firstly while I agree with the accuracy of the figures that she gave. But her conclusions on the impact of what she described as a bloated civil service is incorrect. And she is to some extent racist. For instances she wrote in the fifth paragraph "...The overbloated civil service has for the most part to do with the government' policy of making our civil service the job saviour for unemployed graduates at least 70% of whom were Bumiputeras. This will result in poor quality workforce and but worse than that it will deplete the government's treasury..."

    Here we are able to see her veiled intentions and obvious motives in writing this article and worst, her " balooning lies.." To this writer, do you not know that the percentage of graduates in our civil service are less than 10% percent of the entire civil service. Infact if I am to be more precise, it's about 7% only. So how could it be that the rest of the 90% jobs in the civil service were meant to provide jobs for unemployed graduates ? Most of the intake of civil servants are for positions in the rank and file.

    Secondly you only gave an over generalised picture in which you said that it would increase in the government expense of emoluments and perks. Well, let me tell you this. Not all these civil servants are permanent staff and even when they are permanent staff, not all will be immediately entitled to extras emoluments or other allowances as what you claim. Civil servants who are non permanent or contract staff are not entitled to pensions or allowances but they contribute to EPF. So where is the objectivity to your views here ? You write what is only convenient to you and to your party's cause.

    Thirdly you are racist to it's very core and down to your little spine. You claim that since most of those unemployed graduates are Buniputeras and taking them would result in a poor quality service. Is there any objectivity here ? Why do you equate Bumiputera with low quality service ? What is your basis ? Did you not consider the reports of the credible agencies on quality of private and civil service such as the National productivity council or our ISO's ? Or ask the Malaysian Institute of Management ? Do not make your own conclusions without basis.

    And fourthly, have you the writer forgotten that when we talk of civil service then it aslo includes the state civil service ? ! Why have not not analyse the Selangor civil service ? It has one of the biggest civil service statewise among other states in this country ? And what have the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government do to decrease it's equally bloated civil service ? And on the same line of argument, I throw this more direct challenge to you ? What has the Penang DAP / PR government done to decrease it's civil service ? None.

    Thus it can easily be seen that the purpose of this article is deeply political. Nothing more and nothing less. It bereft itself of objectivity and fairness. This article has nothing to do with good management. It has everything to do with hate and spite. The claim that Bumiputeras would create poor civil service. I want each Bumiputera to read this poorly written article and tell themselves that this is how the Pakatan Rakyat perceives Bumiputeras, a group of race incapable of giving quality service.

    I will certainly write more later to state how much politically clouded is this writer and how little are the truth and merits in her views on the subject.

  2. Just to add one more inputs. Many months ago I read somewhere in this blog in the State Assembley ( DUN proceedings ) of Sarawak, one YB from Pakatan Rakyat were full of praise for China made " fast bullet trains " or fast railway technology. He proposed that Sarawak should follow suit.

    So what happened two weeks later ? In Shanghai one China made technology went derailed from a bridge and 43 people were killed. And a month later a few similar train mishap in China. Investigations showed that China made trains are of poor technology. So where is this YB from Pakatan Rakyat now ? Is he not ashame and does he not have the courage to take back his words ? And above all, tone down his inborn arrogance ? His views shows poor knowledge of technology and a shallow understanding on what this state needs for it's infrastructure.

    I shall write more on the civil service later.

  3. Do we need to have a huge civil service ?

    In approaching the discussion on this subject, it would be prudent if we approach it from an unconventional point of view.

    I do agree on most parts that it would toe to the line of conventional wisdom to strive for a lean or perhaps what is so often perceived as a manageable civil service. Huge governments are more often than not, the ire of the school of good and efficient management for it portrays inefficiency and huge spending perhaps. That could be right.

    But the advocates of a small government or a lean civil service more often than not, would end up embracing bigger ones. When Ronald Reagan ran for the US election in 1980, he promised a minimum government participation in running the machinery of the country, Reagan said that a big government is a huge burden and it must not be allow to grow any longer. Reagan won the election and 8 years later the size of the US civil service remain as what it was when he took office.

    But of course, in all fairness the size of the US civil service is still very much lean and small if we are to compare it to the Malaysian civil populace. The USA has a civil service of about a million for a population of 300 million. But America has a different success story, it has embrace technology and IT even from the early 1980's. The American situation is different, and in fact if we are to add all the civil servants of all the 50 states and if we are also to include the military and police as civil servants, then America would have an enormous civil service perhaps in bigger proportions. But that is not the case over there. While both the USA and Malaysia shared some common characteristics of both being a federation of states, but the USA has a distinct difference of being a union of 50 almost autonomous states with vast jurisdictions. While Malaysia is very much a federation in spirit and form, not many states are too autonomous from the Federal government with the exception of Sabah and Sarawak for that matter.

    In Malaysia the existence of welfarism has long been the norm of the government. Whether we know it or not, our government has been too much welfare minded. For instance education is a government matter to it's policy and administration, hence that is why teachers are part of the civil service. In many states of the US or Europe, education is a private sector, only controlled by the government through laws and statutes. But schools are universities are mostly private enterprise. Hence teachers are not considered as civil servants as it is in Malaysia.

    Another area which we must not overlook is health. In Malaysia health and hospitals are mostly run by the government and of course with the existence of private hospitals owned by companies and corporations. But yet again, since most Malaysians are average income earners, thus health services are very much a direct responsibility of the government. And so is the police force as compared to the USA which does not have a centralised police force. All the 50 states of the USA have their own police force and I am not too sure if they are considered as civil servants like their Malaysian counterparts.

    What I am emphasising here is that in a welfare or shall I say compassionate country like Malaysia, the need is have a big civil service stemmed from the fact that the government has to undertake the mammoth responsibility of attending to the needs of the people, more so in health and education and of course public safety. These task could not be sufficiently attended to without a reasonably big civil service. However having said that, I also believe that there are many non essential services which could be trimmed down in order that the size of the service be smaller and leaner but without adversely affecting the commitments to serve majority of the populace.

    I'll write more.