OUTSPOKEN: A government minister recently stated that the country's civil service is 1.6 million strong and was very proud of this fact.
It is not the numbers that matter but the quality. In fact the rapid increase in the civil service numbers makes it very unwieldy. Though many of the frontline services have seen dramatic improvements, the outsized bureaucracy is there for all to see. The public still face delays in their applications and when they enquire as to the state of their application or the status of their requests they get nowhere.
Things get bogged down with red tape due to the lack of proper coordination. Months go by. There is only uncertainty and frustration on the part of the public.
The administration moves with lackadaisical speed and nobody in the service bothers to untangle this culture. When the government presented the 2015 Budget, just a few months ago the strength of the civil service was 1.4 million. And now within weeks it has ballooned to 1.6 million. This is simply mind boggling.
It was stated that the wages of the civil servants for 2015 will take up RM65.6 billion or 24 percent of the total budget allocation. Thus money paid by the people as taxes will mean that for every ringgit, 24 sen will go to pay wages of civil servants.
It is not just the size of the government staff that is astonishing. Even the number of cabinet ministers surpasses all other countries that have a population similar to that of Malaysia’s 30 million. The Prime Minister’s Office alone has ten cabinet ministers. On top of this there are innumerable contract personnel who are handsomely paid.
The latest disclosures that almost every single Umno Baru head elected or not is given some kind of government post are most revealing. This is not to enhance efficiency but as rewards for supporting the party and the government.
The revelation by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah that payment of RM50,000 for each Umno Baru division chief monthly would constitute 'robbery' of public funds. He was purportedly to have said that, “These days Umno divisional leaders as well as parliamentary members earn up to RM50,000 a month, some even earn hundreds of thousands.”
And there is no mention of the contributions by these people nor are we told of their mettle and abilities.
Nowadays, almost everyone sports the Dr acronym in front of their names indicating that a Ph.D had been earned. But their quality and credibility do not befit their so-called academic standing, if it is genuine at all.
The government refuses to downsize the number of civil servants in the country for fear of losing votes. To them it is a vote bank that has to be built and nurtured. This is really a warped mentality. It is not in the interest of the people and country that matter but more to ensure the survival of the party in power. It is no wonder that the country is heading towards being the laughing stock in Asean.
Civil servants of old, when the country achieved independence, were people oriented. They were not afraid to say no to the political masters. They were then bound by government procedures in everything that they did. As long as the request by the political bosses met the provisions of the General and Financial Orders, then the request would be entertained. Otherwise, the political master would be told that his request did not meet the provisions of the GOs and FOs.
The civil servants may be shuttled around because of this but their pledge was to serve the nation and not the political masters.
It is a pity that the administrative service had given way to the politicians due to personal and vested interest. Naturally the quality had been compromised and it is a loss to the nation and the country.
The quality of the political leadership of the country has much to be desired. Judging from the various comments and statements made by cabinet ministers it goes to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they are not cabinet material nor are they fit to be in the government at all and determining the fate of the nation.
There is not a single iota of intelligence among the ministers.
The country has lost an efficient and trustworthy government due to physical and mental corruption. And the worst part is, the man who is leading the country has no conscience at all about all this. Pity you, Malaysia! Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, "The Unmaking of Malaysia”.