Wednesday, November 09, 2011

UMNO Hypocrites Over Civil Service

The racist reactions by Umno politicians to proposals to improve the efficiency of our civil service and government expenditure prove that the Party prioritises only its bigoted political interests and marginalises the needs of the nation

I am almost amused by the “shock and fury” expressed by Umno politicians, the far-right Perkasa and Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia on a straightforward comment which I had made in a forum in Johor Bahru on 30th October 2011, in response to a question posed by a member of the audience.

I had presented at the Budget 2012 forum the rising Government operating expenditure and the fact that the largest and fastest rising component of the expenditure is the allocation for “Emoluments, Pensions and Gratuities”. I had shown the chart below which clearly highlights the rise of the Government’s total wage bill:


 The chart shows that our total civil service wage bill has increased from RM20.9 billion in 10 years ago in 2001 to RM30.2 billion 5 years ago in 2006 to a massive RM64.1 billion expected next year in 2012.

The member of the audience had asked, what could be done to resolve the issue. I said that this matter will be one which is highly sensitive and a very difficult issue to deal with. I had specifically emphasized that the civil service cannot be reduced overnight and any rationalisation of the civil service has to be conducted over the long term. I had offered certain suggestions such as the termination of civil servants who have failed to perform their responsibilities as well as offering optional early retirement programmes for those who are interested.

However, the reaction from the UMNO chauvinists clearly showed that they are not interested in solving the problem but are more interested in inflaming racial sentiments and making irresponsible wild allegations with the sole purpose of creating racial hatred.

It was perhaps most disappointing to hear the widely respected and normally rational, MP for Johor Bahru, Datuk Shahrir Samad stooping so low as to turn a healthy discussion on the size of the civil service into a racial issue. He has said that “Motif mereka hanyalah mahu menaikkan sentiment rasis dan bukannya berasaskan ekonomi.”

The reaction by the Johor Bahru MP, other Umno politicians and Perkasa is completely hypocritical for it was the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself who has proposed a new civil service scheme for the government workforce.

In his Budget 2012 speech, the Prime Minister himself had proposed that “a flexible remuneration system will be introduced to retain or terminate civil servants based on performance. Civil servants must accept this challenge and be prepared to change. Hence, the Government will introduce the New Civil Service Remuneration Scheme or SBPA [will] introduce an exit policy for underperforming civil servants and for those who opt to leave the service”.

Why is it that these very critics and race-champions have not raised a single note of objection to the Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposal but when the same issue is raised by an opposition politician, then all hell breaks loose.

In fact, even the Chief Secretary, Tan Sri Sidek Hassan has said the same when questioned by reports the day after the Budget speech where “…he insisted that the “exit policy” announced in Budget 2012 would be strictly enforced.”

“If you want to go out, we will allow you to go out. When we think that it is better off for you for a civil servant to be outside the public service, then we will allow them to go out. When they misbehave, and we think they should go out, we’ll ask them to go out,” he said.

Therefore Datuk Shahrir and all other shameless critics should focus on the task at hand as put forth by the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary themselves and stop playing racial politics with the sole purpose of inciting racial hatred among Malaysians for the purposes of shoring up declining support for an UMNO that is bankrupt of ideas.
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