PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The abolition of the Critical Service Incentive Allowance (BIPK) involving 33 service schemes is because it no longer meets the criteria for granting the allowance, the Public Service Department (PSD).
PSD deputy director-general (Development) Datuk Suhaime Mahbar (pic) said BIPK was introduced in 1992 due to low recruitment in certain sectors at the time and to attract graduates to join public service.
"Critical here does not mean that the job is difficult but it is very difficult to get the expertise.
"For example, there were not many medical graduates back then, therefore the allowance was introduced to attract them to join the public service.
"However, nowadays, we have received 24,756 applications for medical officer posts, exceeding the employment requirement of 15,268,” he said.
Apart from the medical field, Suhaime said other posts affected were architects, marine officers, engineers and pilots as the number of applicants was far higher than the vacancies.
He noted that the abolition of an allowance was not a new thing as it would also be reviewed every five years to determine the necessity.
Suhaime said to date, 27 allowances had been abolished, merged or rebranded since 1992 as they did not meet the granting criteria.
Among them were the Good Conduct Allowance, the Snake Poisoning Allowance, Special Stenographer Allowance, Mail Train Allowance, and Accountant Encouragement Allowance, he said.
"The government will always consider the application and review all public sector allowances based on certain principles,” he said.
Suhaime did not rule out that BIPK would be reintroduced to attract more experts in new fields to join the public sectors to face the era of the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0).
Commenting on the call for medical officers to continue to receive such allowance due to their workload constraints, Suhaime said many did not know that they were actually eligible to receive 22 other allowances and facilities based on their assigned tasks.
The allowances included Hospital Administration Allowance, Medical On-call Allowance, Flexible Working Hours Allowance for Graduate Medical Officers and Specialist Incentive Payment, he added.
"What needs to be understood is the allowances given are not permanent and can be withdrawn according to the current situation, but many consider them as their absolute right,” he said.
It was reported on Tuesday (Dec 24) that 33 critical service schemes would be affected by the elimination of the allowance starting next year.
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction over the move.
“I do not agree with critical allowance cut for our young doctors and nurses, we should not wrong our young doctors and nurses and those in critical services as they are already overworked and underpaid, ” he said in a clip posted on social media.
Syed Saddiq added that the government should instead review the allowances given to ministers and politicians.
He also vowed to cut back on his annual leave and promised to return the money he received from the government as holiday allowances.
“I have already reduced 10% of my salary and will ensure that (the salary) of others will be reduced as well, ” he added.
While his post found support among Malaysians, many also questioned why, as a member of the Pakan Harapan administration, he had not first brought up the matter with the Cabinet.
This included MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who dubbed Syed Saddiq's criticism of the government's decision to eliminate the allowance as "acting".
"Isn't Syed Saddiq a full minister who attends the Cabinet meeting weekly. Why not bring his 'loud voice' during the meetings. Is it proper to shout outside but be silent during Cabinet meetings?
"Doesn't he understand the principles of collective responsibility that is practised by the Cabinet. If any minister disagrees with the PM, there is only one way out which is to resign. That is the Westminster system practised in Malaysia," he said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Dec 26).
Joining Syed Saddiq in expressing their disagreement over the elimination of the allowance was the Malaysian Medical Association.
Its president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said that the elimination of the allowance for new civil service recruits will negatively impact the morale of junior healthcare professionals, therefore affecting the public healthcare system.
"The decision will affect the newly employed junior staff who are already faced with bleak career prospects and little chance for permanent positions.
"This decrease of nearly 15% of a newly graduated doctor, nurse, pharmacist and dentist's pay is a significant one.
"This will of course affect the morale of the junior healthcare professional, leading to reductions in productivity and overall job satisfaction.
"Many of them are already suffering burnout, emotional distress and low social support and this decision will further enhance it," said Dr Ganabaskaran in a statement Wednesday (Dec 25).- Bernama