Right-Sizing the Malaysian Civil Service?

February 27, 2017

Image result for din merican

Note: Yes, Tan Sri, to civil service reform or right sizing (as you call it) but it requires political will. First let us remove top civil servants who are only good at buttering up corrupt politicians. Both the Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa and Secretary-General to the Treasury Irwan Siregar, for example, should be asked to go on retirement followed by incompetent senior servants (the deadwood) who should be replaced by a new corp of civil  servants  chosen for their competency and courage to speak to power.

Image result for Incompetent and corrupt Najib Razak

Is this the face of a reformer? Look elsewhere, Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff.

Next, open up the civil service to all Malaysians, not just Malays and then stop recruiting Malay graduates who are not employable elsewhere and finally, disband Cuepecs since this union is an obstacle to any reform.

I bet you Najib Razak is not the man who is likely to take tough action against civil servants since they form the backbone of UMNO’s political support.

So let us not talk about right-sizing the civil service when we know the Prime Minister will not undertake civil service reform since his political survival is at stake. We are a failed state with a dysfunctional political system and a civil service which is performing sub-optimally.–Din Merican

Right-Sizing the Malaysian Civil Service?

by Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim @www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: There have been a lot of emotional reactions from Cuepacs and Perkasa about my statement regarding the oversized civil service. Perhaps the sensitivity is due to the fact that the civil service is mainly Malay and Malay dependence on the civil service for employment is very high.

Image result for tan sri mohd sheriff mohd kassim

The right-sizing of our civil service through a voluntary separation scheme is badly needed. There are ways of doing it in a humane and caring manner.

First, the government can start with retraining of redundant employees by giving them free courses on skills development: computers, English, basic accounting, corporate law, etc – all the skills needed to make them employable in the private sector.

I am sure once the employees get these skills, many would like to leave as soon as they reach optional retirement age. The government employees will self-separate.

It should be noted that there are thousands of civil servants, where both husband and wife are in the government service. In many cases among the lower level categories, one of them is doing part-time business like selling kain, tudung, kuih, religious books, etc, to earn more money. They probably have business ambitions but cannot afford to leave the government, because they have no capital.

Imagine if an offer is made for a voluntary separation package of RM40,000 for 20 years of service. The chances are one of them will take the package, while the other one will continue to work in the government until retirement to enjoy the medical benefits for the whole family. Thus, the government is helping the Malay wife or husband to become an entrepreneur, a genuine one because they have a track record.

Voluntary separation schemes, like those in the private sector, cannot be forced upon because it is illegal to terminate a worker who has not done anything wrong and has been a loyal employee.

Automation can replace human labour

The scheme should affect those whose functions are no longer needed because automation can replace human labour and because, with technology, there is no more need for sending letters or face-to-face service – ie the human-intensive work is no longer relevant in 21st Century Malaysia.

In the banking sector, there is no need to go to the branch for transactions. That is why banks are closing down their branches and terminating their employees.

Image result for The Malaysian Civil Service

Malaysian Civil Servants pledging to serve the corrupt UMNO regime led by Malaysian Official No. 1.

I believe the government can also look at closing down completely, or partially, certain offices and branches without affecting the quality of service. The redundant civil servants should then be deployed to other functions or retrained to prepare them for the separation scheme.

While the government right-sizes redundant civil servants, it will have to continue to recruit those that are needed for specialized expertise in the fields of finance, economics, research, medicine, education, science, environment, law, etc. This should be encouraged as the civil service must continually upgrade the quality of its staff.

The government should be focusing more on quality, rather than quantity, because this is the way to increase productivity and efficiency in the civil service.

We should have a much smaller administrative service to support the functioning of government ministries and departments. This can be achieved by decentralizing and empowering of authority to reduce the multi-layer approval process.

A lot of progress has been made in recent years to improve the counter delivery services in several departments, with the use of technology and the simplification of procedures. Logically, there should be less need for manpower and the redundant staff can be offered voluntary retirement with an attractive compensation package.

If it takes some years for the government to recover the heavy expenditure of the separation scheme, then it is worth it. We can hope that with smaller government, the economy as a whole will become more efficient and with dynamism and growth in private sector activities, the government will collect more taxes to recover the cost of the separation scheme.

I believe the government should start planning a right-sizing program of the civil service now, so that it can be done in a proper manner, rather than wait until there is a financial crisis, at which time government employees will be retrenched without justice for all their years of loyal service. This has happened in Greece, as I mentioned previously.

Tan Sri MOHD SHERIFF MOHD KASSIM, a former Secretary-General of the Treasurer, is a member of the G25 Group of Eminent Malays.

Recommended READ by Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim:


6 thoughts on “Right-Sizing the Malaysian Civil Service?

  1. Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of the bolehland bureaucracy; but I repeat myself. With apologies to Twain.
    But they are not really dumb. Just idle sycophants counting their days when the JUSA falls in their laps so they can count their rezeki. No matter that their capabilities and skills are almost nil. Or that they are reaping the benefits of a dedak-laden system that the chief political parties subscribe to fully. And all led by the ilks of Hamsa n Siregar.

  2. Tan Sri Sheriff: With due respect, the ketuanan Melayu mindset propagated by successive governing regimes and Prime Ministers via Biro Tata Negara and not to mention the overall cultural milieu that a Malay has to be the one who leads regardless of competence and credentials and has to in charged and hence inculcating in the psychic of generations of civil servants and Malaysian populace and now you want to say to them all, “Never mind” a la Roseanne Roseanndona of Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Life parody? And all those teachings will now be invalidated?? Good luck, Sir and this comes from a Malay boy born in Ulu Kelantan with no mixed blood parentage a la the Tunku, Razak, Hussein, Mahathir, Abdullah and now what’s her name (the first female PM albeit behind the scene).

  3. To be fair, (and perhaps at the risk of being classified as “pedantic”), not all civil servants, Malays or others, are as useless and lazy as it is made out to be.

    In our daily work, we encounter Malay civil servants from heads of department to the lowest clerk. Some are exemplary. The problem is they are the quiet minority, also a shrinking minority. I know because I’ve dealt with them since the 1970s.

    So also to be fair to Tan Sri Sheriff, his ideas and comments are good and right, but the devil is in the detailed implementation, assuming the “self-separation” plan is accepted at all because no civil servant, since the time of the Mandarin civil servants in ancient China, wants to voluntarily give up his / her iron rice bowl, especially when the iron bowl is handed to them on an iron plate.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume, by some miracle, 1000s and 1000s of civil servants of all races were to voluntarily “self-separate”, there is no way the private sector can absorb even a fraction of them, at least in the short / medium term because in my 40 odd years of private sector experience in the Malaysian workplace staff replacements and new hiring policy is very conservative for the simple fact that hiring is easy, but firing is deadly. And this precisely is the problem faced by our civil service.

    So “self-separation” is not a workable solution. If ever there emerges a political will to solve the “problem”, I would suggest that there be a strict moratorium on new hiring, (except of course for mission-critical personnel), for 5 – 7 years. Every department head will have to re-structure, re-allocate, retrain, in fact re-everything their existing staff and make do with what they have and what they have not.

    This way new graduates and school-leavers will know that they have to prepare yourselves for the private sector; the government job safety net is gone. The government itself, particularly the politicians, will have to grow the economy in order to create new jobs because their own jobs depend on it.

    Am I dreaming? Perhaps, but then I would like to hear another reasonably workable solution, at least in theory?
    The center can no longer since corruption is eroding its core, Wayne, it has always been the few who keep the system going since most are free rider civil servants and politicio types. –Din Merican

    • You are correct Wayne. Not all civil servants are useless or lazy, but a large percentage are, thus bringing down the productivity of the civil service.

      My suggestion is to put a hiring freeze across the board. Look at the redundancy and transfer personnel where needed. Since firing is not an option then let the numbers be reduced through attrition or retirement. Put in place a productivity measure.

      Promotion into top position should be done on experience, skills and education background. Make sure person is fit for position.

  4. If 1Malaysia goes hat in hand to the IMF for bailouts,
    one IMF “conditionality” will be the axing of many civil servants.

    But it looks like it won’t happen as 1Malaysia “di gadaikan kepada
    Mainland China”. Is 1Malaysia also being “di gadaikan” to Saudi Arabia ?

    Sarawak Report believes that Malaysian soldiers are already involved in
    the Saudi-directed military operations in Yemen. Anybody has any news on
    this alarming allegation ?

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