It is no longer a secret that Malaysia has about the biggest civil service -1.4mil of them, for a tiny population of about 27mil! This is about 10% of the workforce at about 10mil. Why? It seems that-as implied by the column below, the civil servants are employed to make up for failed economic strategy to put many unemployable graduates into gainful private employment. But the problem cannot be allowed to continue for decades as it had. It has a huge cost to the country-if not contribute to its prospect of being bankrupted! When the people who regulate the workforce dominate over those who waork/create income there is less to go around-no matter how the cake is to be cut! The too many cooks in this situation will make everyone an economic `libertarian’ to trim the civil service. Except the current ruling party who still want to buy these civil servants as supporters. That may explain everything.
The civil service is not an ivory tower
August 8, 2010, Sunday(Borneo Post)
IT’S NOT often people think about the civil service. Government employees are generally invisible despite their important role in keeping the administration up and running.Probably, the only time people might think of civil servants is when they run into problems trying to obtain public service. Manpower shortage is not the issue. How could it be when Malaysia is already saddled with an over-sized civil service. One million numerically to be precise — that is one civil servant for every 25 Malaysians.
With that kind of ratio, calling our civil service fat is an understatement. Obese is more like it. The picture becomes colossally clear when we make a comparison with Andhra Pradesh. This Indian state employs about one million public servants but its population is near 75 million (for one state alone), and even then, it is considered to have a disproportionately big civil service.
Analysts believe one reason for Malaysia’s bloated civil service – relative to its population (over 27 million for one nation) — is that most job applicants, rejected by the private sector for lacking the required skills, are usually absorbed into the public sector.
This immediately calls to mind the problem of unemployed graduates — so called because they are unemployable, especially in the private sector, despite tertiary education. Last year, the government declared the civil service would pick up the slack. Could this have been responsible for most of the deficiencies encountered in the civil service?
Most people may not know what is expected of the civil service. In a broad sense, kaki-tangan awam should, at all times, be objective and impartial in doing their job. In practice, they operate within a framework of rules that include largely commonsense standards of conduct. The sense of public responsibility is fundamental to carrying out their duties correctly.
Openness is the leitmotif that guides their public relations awareness. They have to cultivate good administrative culture to ensure high quality public service.
In this context, pro-activeness or the ability to control a situation by causing something to happen rather than waiting to respond to it only after it happens is a vital to promoting efficiency in the civil service. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Dr George Chan got this point across loud and clear when he ticked off perfunctory civic servants for being slow to show initiative, saying they seldom made any effort to come down from their ivory tower.
As government officers, they should collect feedback to enhance the delivery system, he said at a function to mark the 22nd anniversary of Kuching’s elevation to city status earlier in the week.
The Deputy Chief Minister noted, with refreshing candour, that some civil servants tended to be over-subservient to their superior. He said instead of putting their ears to the ground when planning an event, they asked for their bosses’ opinions and as a result, often put up a show that was of no interest to the public.
Next, his frank admission of government leaders not knowing everything about the functions they were invited to attend due to inadequate information at source, is a welcomed change from the usual stuffy disposition of most YBs.
He said leaders like him might not know about things the people were going through because they (leaders) were “masked by privileges” such as roads being cleared for them when they went to officiate at functions.
“If you ask people at the top, of course, they will most likely say no problem. But if you ask people on the ground, they know things that need to be done. So you have to connect with the right people to get the right information,” he stressed.
Dr Chan’s message to the civil service is clear — be proactive, gather proper feedback for efficient delivery and put the people first.
Indeed, waiting, instead of anticipating, for things to happen can spoil one’s chance for success. Most people can improve if they kindle their own self-starter in the form of personal initiative and start using their own hands and brains instead of crutches borrowed from others.
For Malaysia, claims of government employees being overworked sound like bilge water, yet, with a civil service having burst at the seams, lack of manpower is still an excuse commonly used by some government departments to justify their under-performance. Should streamlined bureaucracy produce greater efficiency, trimming the civil service would be worthwhile.
But this is easier said than done — and a lot of political will is needed to pull it off.