KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak disagrees with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's plan to privatise parts of the public sector to address its bloated size.
As an example, Najib said that the former Barisan Nasional government was forced to reacquire Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAS) after it was privatised during Dr Mahathir's first tenure as prime minister in the 1990s.
"It depends, it depends. Privatisation has not been the panacea. As you know, we privatised MAS during his time and we had to buy back at the same price.
"It was privatisation that went awry so we rescued that and bailed them (MAS) out," the former premier said at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (March 12).
Earlier, during Question Time, Dr Mahathir said the government was looking at the feasibility of privatising parts of the public sector in a bid to address its bloated size.
The government, he said, would prepare a holistic plan to ensure the transition plan to cut the size of the public sector would not have an impact on the administration of the country.
Dr Mahathir said the number of civil servants stood at about one million when he resigned in 2003 but the figures continued to rise to about 1.7 million people.
According to Najib, the figures of civil servants in foreign countries are different from Malaysia.
He said that in most countries, the police and military are not included in the total figure of civil servants.
"You have to compare apples to apples …in Malaysia, we include everybody.
"But if there are areas they (the government) can reduce jobs that are redundant, then why not? And if there are organisations that can be pruned," he said.
Najib said the government had to conduct a proper analysis to ascertain whether claims of a bloated civil service were true.
"We cannot (do it) based on rhetoric. It has to be based on analysis and proper study," he added.
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