AS rightly pointed out by the Prime Minister recently, the civil service in Malaysia is bloated – it is so big that we could possibly face problems in future paying retired civil servants. The more than 1.7 million people on the government’s payroll tells us a lot about the size of the problem facing the nation, and it is hard to reduce the figure too, so said the Prime Minister.
The real issue is not the number but the right number for each ministry; certainly, we cannot just reduce our armed forces and police and fire services immediately so there has to be strict formulas to follow in determining the optimum number for each category of employment.
Then, the next step is trim contract workers’ numbers by retraining or voluntary separation schemes while reducing ministry budgets to ensure that only those needed are retained and those with blemished records are dropped.
All ministries failing to meet their KPIs will be expected to shed excess staff as a first step towards improving their quality of services. Furthermore, with advances in IT, the number of employees should be lowered, as has happened in the banking sector.
Previously, the decision not to reduce the number of civil servants was political; today, facing billion-ringgit deficits, the government has to boost the economy for the private sector to boom and for employment to rise.
Capping intake and reducing foreign nationals is crucial to ensure higher wages, which will entice Malaysians overseas to return, especially those with skills and expertise.
Investors are fully aware that a bloated civil service is a sure sign of a country with a bleak future and massive bureaucratic red tape that usually results in corruption.
Director, Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs