Another dimension of civil service

There are reportedly some 1.63 million civil servants in Malaysia.

I read an interesting article on civil service (“What happens to the civil service now?”) in FMT today.

I don’t disagree with the observations made in the article, I just want to add another dimension to it.

To begin with, the civil service in Malaysia is not only political and partisan, it is also slow, bloated, incompetent, parochial and even racist. Neither Pakatan Harapan nor Barisan Nasional have labelled the civil service correctly for fear of backlash during the election. But I think they know what I am going to say now.

The civil service is quick to gravitate to the powers that be. In doing so, they don’t much value their role as an independent institution.

We need no further evidence to support the baloney perpetrated by the civil service in various ministries, the AG’s Chambers, the police and MACC in recent times. The political masters have a field day because the civil service, the police, the AG’s Chambers and MACC have played three wise monkeys to the hilt.

The civil service is incompetent because not the most competent people are at the helm. Mediocrity is widely accepted because performance was never an important factor. It is an accepted culture that the government can afford to waste money, make people wait and beg, and give no explanation of their responsibility or shortcomings.

Because of our history, our civil service has become parochial and even racist. Let’s be honest with ourselves; discrimination is routine and rampant in the civil service. It is not uncommon for them to keep the lucrative and important posts in the service for themselves or within their own family or community. Even provision of services to the public is discriminatory, often based on connection, race and economic status.

The civil service is overstaffed. We employ many but we never look at deployment. It is time to make the civil service lean and mean. Having too many staff actually hinders efficiency more than it promotes output. When we employ people to do nothing, they will soon feel a sense of entitlement, as if it is their right to get paid for doing nothing.

What is the moral of this story? It is time for the people to monitor the civil service the way we monitor politicians.

It is time to coerce and compel them to account for their actions or inaction. The government of day must be told to act fairly and not blindly protect and defend the civil service as in the past.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.