In this article, I wish to contribute to the discussion and possible solution to the serious problem of ethnic imbalance in the Civil Service.
However, before proceeding with my analysis of the issue and my suggested way forward, I wish to change the name ‘Civil Service’ to ‘Perkhidmatan Rakyat’ or Citizen Service.
The reason I have done so is to remind the civil servants that they are the servants to the rakyat and not to self-centered politicians or other ‘powers’.
In my recent article on Democratic Spaces in Cities, I had recommended that all municipal buildings be equipped with spaces that the rakyat can use for free, like a public square, town hall, meeting rooms, public gymnasium as well as recreational facilities.
The municipality serves the rakyat first. The municipality does not serve the Yang Di-Pertua, whose main job is to ensure that all civil servants serve the people. That’s how democracy works.
Now, on to the problem of the imbalance of ethnic groups in the Citizen Service.
In a media report, the government has listed the following numbers using the following ethnic classifications.
I will therefore use the same classification for my strategy to readdress the imbalance issue:
I have five important suggestions to readdress this issue of imbalance in the Citizen Service.
The first one is to stop all bickering between the government servants and the rakyat on whose fault it was or what kind of conspiracy was afoot.
Both arguments from the government and the rakyat I found have merits, but I think at this juncture we should not deal with it at all as it will cause continued mistrusts and accusations that will be hard to prove, thus resulting in undue tension between our people.
My second suggestion is to institute immediately a quota system for the Citizen Service at all levels of ranks and functions according to the population quotas within the same seven categories listed by the government servants themselves.
I feel this is justified and a solution to a more harmonious nation building efforts in denying any favoritism of the government servants to service one particular political party that is of the same race and religion.
My third suggestion is that any quota of the seven groups that seemed difficult to fill in must be done so using a National Draft Act.
I foresee that the Armed Forces and the Security Service may be unpopular with non-Malays but it is essential that we have a multicultural balanced force or else all will fail.
All selected or chosen able-bodied unmarried males and females between from 20 to 25 who are Malaysians will be subjected to a National Draft Service of two years (plus a four-month boot camp period). Exception is given to those caring for their ailing parents.
During that time, all employers must allow their employee a three-year leave of absence with a continuation of service at their place of employment.
The draftees will be allowed to complete any foundation or matriculation programs through hybrid weekend education, and the tuition will be fully compensated by the government throughout the two-year service.
At the end of the service, most draftees will just have to complete their final two years in their campuses but the tuition fees then will no longer be compensated by the government.
I am sure with free room and board, the draftees will manage to save RM15,000 to RM20,000 from their allowances to complete their education.
My fourth suggestion is that all serious incidents of injury, bullying or mishandling must be investigated by a full public inquiry.
I do not want a repeat of the useless internal investigations that never found any guilty verdicts on the administrators of the National Service Camps that resulted in many deaths of our children.
My fifth suggestion is that a full public audit committee must be set up by the rakyat to check up on the yearly recruitment exercises of the Citizen Service.
All promotion and recruitment panel committee must have a proper multicultural balance to avoid any issues of ethnic favoritism.
I call on the Ketua Setiausaha Negara to meet with the people to discuss options of how we can address the imbalance issue in the civil service.
We do not wish to involve politicians as the rakyat have too much ‘politician fatigue’ or be accused of pandering to partisan politics.
Thus, the KSN should rest assured that the Citizen Service and the rakyat are all in the same boat on this issue.
As my first suggestion dictates, the forum or public discussion shall not be tainted by any history of why the imbalance has occurred.
I hope that the rakyat will think seriously about the suggestion above.
I allow ten years for the present Melayu Civil Service to become a Malaysian Perkhidmatan Rakyat. In this way, whichever political party wins, the rakyat will always be protected by a well balanced Citizen Service force that understand their responsibility and amanah to the building of a harmonious and just nation
(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)