Even as the country’s debt level rises, the bureaucracy remains bloated, bleeding the fiscal budget, observes Martin Jalleh.
On 7 November 2010 Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yassin boldly declared that the bureaucrats in Bolehland are “the best civil servants in the world”! He was right. Malaysia’s bureaucracy is the “best in the world” in the following ways:
Best bloated civil service
- With 1.3 million civil servants to a population of 26 million, Malaysia has one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards.
- In 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was the highest in Asia Pacific. The ratio was 4.68 per cent, compared to Singapore’s 1.5 per cent, Indonesia’s 1.79 per cent, Korea’s 1.85 per cent and Thailand’s 2.06 per cent all of which have less than half our ratio.
Best way to bleed a budget dry
- Much of the budget (2011) continues to go into operating a bloated civil service. As much as three quarters of the national budget is spent on paying salaries and other benefits to over 1.3 million civil servants.
- A post-2011 Budget dialogue highlighted the massive amount (35 per cent of the total RM162.8 billion operating expenditure) to be spent on emoluments, pensions and gratuities of civil servants. A panelist, Ministry of Finance budget division director Datuk Dr Rahmat Bivi Yusuff admitted that there is a need to trim the civil service to reduce the budget deficit.
Best way to bankrupt this nation
- Whilst it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, the PM’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554 this year. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff.
- The White House budget is US$394 million for 2011. The PM’s Department has been allocated a whopping RM18.14 billion for the year 2011, almost double the RM10.2 billion 2010.
- Pemandu, which stands for Performance, Management and Delivery Unit, was set up last year under the Najib administration as one of the pillars in his Government Transformation Plan… is a massive drain on resources. In a span of two months the government spent RM20 million just to pay 50 consultants,.
Best contradiction of 1Malaysia
- As at 31 December 2009, the racial breakdown of the Malaysian civil service comprising 1,247,894 employees was as follows: Malay (78.2 per cent); Other Bumiputras (7.7 per cent); Chinese (5.8 per cent), Indian (4.0 per cent); and Others (4.2 per cent).
- “This is the worst multi-racial composition of the government service, with the lowest Chinese and Indian representation in the public service in Malaysia’s 53-year history. This is clearly seen from the three sets of comparative figures of the racial breakdown of the civil service before the NEP (1971) and as compared to Dec. 2009 – Malays (60.80 per cent and 78.2 per cent); Chinese (20.2% and 5.8 per cent); Indians (17.4 per cent and 4.0 per cent); and Others (1.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent).
Best in corruption
- Last year two out of five civil servants were deemed corrupt by Cuepacs. It was described as a worrying trend that needed to be tackled urgently.
- Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption last year (Bernama, 2 June 2010).
Best “dumping ground”
Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz, a former state assembly member of Pahang who is a member of Umno and who uses the pen-name Sakmongkol AK47, in his blog entry wrote: “Government service shouldn’t be treated as a dumping ground for academic rejects and mediocre material. Let’s demand a certain high standard and ensure we bring in talent that supports the demand for high standards.
“What has the government done to improve the efficiency and competence of government servants? There isn’t really competition there if the service is dominated by one race. There isn’t sufficient quality if the entry-level qualifications are so-so.
“Yet each year, to placate civil servants, the PM will appear on TV to say, we honour our civil servants because they have done a good job, blah blah. Which is not entirely true. The service is slow, the quality of officers is questionable.”
But Umno likes Muhyiddin’s make-believe. The next General Elections must be close at hand. Civil servants are made to believe that Umno is their (political) paymaster and they owe it to Umno. The party’s leaders would do or say anything to convince the government servant of this, even praising them as “the best civil servants in the world”!
Martin Jalleh, a well known political commentator, is a regular contributor to Aliran Monthly.