Dr Lim Teck Ghee’s proposal for civil service reform must have collected a few inches of dust by now.
Media comment by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief on Friday, November 10, 2006 in Petaling Jaya
The proposal presented by Asli for the Ninth Malaysian Plan on the reform of civil service should be adopted by the Government if the Government is really serious about national unity and justice for all.The racial biased civil service has been one of the divisive factors in Malaysia. A reform of civil service is very much needed to prevent a time-bomb.Should the 60-40 formula (60% Malays, 40% Non-Malays) for civil service was subscribed, civil service would certainly see a more equitable and representative workforce in about three decades as projected by Asli.
Based on a 35-year projection done by Asli, such a formula would ensure both the continued increase of Malays in civil service alongside an incremental amount of non-Malays.
The recommendation made by the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute (Asli)’s in its proposal for the Ninth Malaysia Plan in February, said the formula would see about 4,600 to 6,500 Malay recruits and about 3,000 to 4,300 Non-Malay recruits annually. In its projection, the formula would see civil service comprising of 65 percent Malay and 35 percent non-Malay by 2040. Based on June 2005 figures, Malays make up 77.03 percent of civil service.
We agree with Asli that the major reason for the lack of non-Malay applications into the civil service was a widespread perceived Malay bias in recruitment and promotion.
As examples, the report said nearly all secretary-generals of ministries, director-generals of professional departments and senior officer posts from school deans and upwards, were all held by bumiputeras.
It also dismisses allegations that non-Malays find wages in public sector jobs unattractive.
“In fact, the relative security, prestige and other non-monetary perks that accompany the upper-level civil service make these positions much sought after…
We also agree with the report that an unrepresentative civil service tends to generate ill-feelings from poorly represented groups. In practice, the report argued that an unrepresentative civil would tend to display ethnic bias in the way they discharge their duties.
“The threat of racial bias to national unity is demonstrated for all Malaysians by the police’s lack of even-handedness in the Kampung Medan incident in 2001,
“There can be little doubt that the problem would not have occured had the police been more representative instead of predominantly Malay,” said the report.(On 21 March 2001, Malaysia saw its worst bout of racial clash since 1969 in Kampung Medan, Selangor which left 29 Indians and three Malays dead due to fighting).
Citing another example, the report said evidence shows that Malay and Islamic influences are increasing in national schools because the teachers and headmasters were predominantly Malay, thus causing uneasiness among non-Malays.
It said civil service should rightfully be promoting national unity, rather than being left to dividing the various ethnic groups.
We hope the Government would adopt the 60-40 formula immediately because it would gradually change the ratio of different ethnic groups in the civil service to a more balanced and healthy level, which in the long run, good for racial harmony and national unity.Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been talking about his role as the “PM for all Malaysians”. We want him to walk his talk now and forging a more balanced and healthy civil service is certainly a way to look forward.