Govt should get tough with indifferent civil servants

The Chief Secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa has made an encouraging announcement that 5000 out of about 1.6 million civil servants have been told to buck up or leave the government service.

But the policy implementation is discouragingly too soft and should be tougher.

The unworthy civil servants concerned had a performance score of below 60% which is unacceptable. Now we are also left to wonder how on earth they were allowed to sink to such a low level of incompetency.

Civil service recruitment policies have obviously failed too since we have been left with so many under-performing civil servants. Apparently some of them did not attend work for as long as 200 days per annum and were even found moonlighting i.e. working elsewhere too.

If they were in the private sector they would have been sacked long before they approached anywhere near the period of 200 wasted days.

This fact partly explains the difference in the performance of employees in the public and private sectors. Inefficiency is tolerated far more in the public sector. However it is this kind of incompetence that causes expansions in Budget expenditures, deepening of Budget deficits and the rise in national debt.

Worse yet, these indisciplined civil servants, instead of facing the sack, are offered several chances to rehabilitate themselves through training courses and counselling, and six months of observation before they are finally asked to opt out of the Government service.

This is the kind of pampering or ‘manja-manja’, that is weakening the quality and reputation of our once proud civil service, many of whose former members feel let down by these careless workers.

If this exit policy is part of the National Blue Ocean Strategy, something must be wrong and this exit policy must surely be reviewed and be made tougher and fairer to the public and the rest of the civil service.

These under-performing civil servants should not be transferred to other departments or given alternative jobs. These are bad apples who have the likelihood of spoiling the whole basket. This soft, ineffective practice serves to only demoralise the majority of civil servants who do an honest day’s work.

Hence the worst of these indifferent workers should not be treated with kindness when they have let down the Rakyat and tax- payers. No wonder there is opposition to the GST which is actually a goods tax.

Of course civil service unions (Cuepacs) would likely support this soft policy, as they too want the votes of the weak workers to keep their high posts. This situation is familiar to most Malaysian voters. We see this tendency in our general elections too.

So while this has evolved to become a win-win situation for Government employers and employees, it has however been done at the expense of the public who suffer from poor public services.

It must be reminded that the public can also vote against poor public services and soft policies at the ballot box.
Overall, the exit policy is welcome for purposes of rationalising and downsizing the country’s inordinately large civil service. However please review this soft exit policy or the public perception of the civil service, the high incidence of corruption and the huge wastage of public funds, will worsen.

Now that the 11th Malaysia Plan has been launched and Vision 2020 is only five years away, we cannot afford this ‘manja-manja’ exit policy.

I hope our well meaning Chief Secretary Tan Sri Ali, will be fully backed by the Government to take a harder line against civil servants who let down and even undermine the Government and the welfare of all Malaysians, who expect a better deal from our civil service, to bring about a better Malaysia, under the 11th Malaysia Plan, Vision 2020 and beyond.

Article published in The Star and The Malaysian Insider.

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