Navaratnam slams Zahid over gratitude plea

ramon-zahidPETALING JAYA: A prominent former civil servant has criticised Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for calling for gratitude to the ruling government in an address to pensioners and retiring civil servants.

“Civil servants should be loyal to God, king and country, and not political parties of any kind,” said Ramon Navaratnam, who now heads the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.

He said Zahid’s call on pensioners “not to bite the hand that feeds” them was inappropriate because the civil service was supposed to be free of political influences.

In his speech yesterday at the 1Pesara Malaysia 2017 event at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park, Zahid told the 7,000-odd people in the audience to be thankful to the Barisan Nasional government and asked them to give it a standing ovation.

“We are together here today and in the days to come to stress our gratitude to the government of Malaysia, which has protected us and will continue to protect us,” he said.

Navaratnam said Zahid’s remarks could erode the integrity and professionalism of the public service.

Johan Ariffin Samad
Johan Ariffin Samad

A member of the G25 pressure group, Johan Ariffin Samad, told FMT that some retired civil servants may see Zahid’s comment yesterday as an attempt by the government to buy their loyalty in light of the upcoming 14th General Election (GE 14).

He added that Zahid must have realised that pensioners and those who were about to retire from the civil service were fed up with government excesses while they had to deal with the rising cost of living.

“They have to struggle to make ends meet in a difficult economic environment and are worried about the future,” he said.

“Budget cuts in hospitals have also affected the standard of healthcare when they need it most.”