3:03pm 13/02/2023
Politicians with ‘courage’ but not wisdom in civil service issue
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

Once again a “courageous” politician from Penang made headlines when he suggested that the civil service should be reformed as it is too dominated by the Malays.

In this article, I wish to show that certain issues in a democracy requires great wisdom in how it is presented, when it is presented and whom the audience should be. So much so that the politician is criticizing his own political partners in a fragile coalition of government.

I have often wondered why such a seasoned politician like the personality in Penang would always present any race or religion related issue in a fantastic and “bombardment” manner. There seems to be no tact, no diplomacy and no adab at all for the feelings of others.

Of course, one can quote “democratic principles” or freedom of speech and expression to justify one’s “outburst” in the media.

I do not wish to dwell on the issue of reforming the civil service towards a more race-balanced entity, because I have already written my piece in this same newspaper entitled “From a Melayu Civil Service to a Malaysian Perkhidmatan Rakyat” published on July 28 last year, where I outlined my own blueprint for change.

Interestingly enough, there was no comment from any politician, NGO or institution to my strategy for reform.

In that article, I highlighted the problematic issue of commitment by Malaysian parents of their children in the armed forces and security units of the country.

My suggestion was to implement a three-year National Service Draft to all young adults of all races to fulfill the race quotas of the armed forces and security units.

That suggestion may have “frightened” certain quarters, hence the complete silence after that

 If I am not mistaken, another politician from the same party in Penang had raised the issue.

Certain issues in a democracy requires great wisdom in how it is presented, when it is presented and whom the audience should be.

Anyway, the civil service should not be giving flimsy excuses that the government service is unattractive because of low pay.

Are you serious? Once upon a time 50 years ago that may be true.

I started with a lecturer’s salary of RM1,600 in 1987 but now that salary is RM7,000 in public universities. I think most private universities offer much less than that.

On top of that, civil servants get a nice pension and housing allowance or free housing as well as hospitalization expenses for life.

Landing a government job is now a dream of dreams. But still, the fact that so few have applied, as the official statistics show, needs a review.

Perhaps, the civil service should put up a roadshow at universities to recruit the best talents with a race-based quota that reflects the nation’s populace and answer hard questions from the graduates.

They should go to private universities and vernacular schools and show a friendly face there to the other races.

In my 32 years at a public and a private universities, I have never seen that happen.

The armed forces and security units should also be making rounds and I also have not seen them do so.Be friendly-lah to the graduates from all races and faiths!

Now, back to the “courageous” politician who probably has no wisdom in making statements, I wonder why they do so.

Is it perhaps these politicians are “incompetent”? I don’t think so, since some carry titles of Dr. And professor. Is it because they seek popularity so that they can get elected from non-Malay electorates? Most probably-lah because the first rule of politics is …get elected first, wisdom and principle later perhaps.

Is it because these politicians have a personal agenda to derail their partners? Well, as they say, there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.

Finally, is it because these politicians lack wisdom and adab? For that you have to judge what they say, how they say, and their personal characters.

I mean why can’t a politician wishing to raise a sensitive issue choose his words and ears of the audience carefully? Jangan asyik tembak melulu!

The Malays have a saying, terlajak perahu boleh diundur, terlajak kata buruk padahnya. I am not sure the politician in question knows this peribahasa, but he should reflect on it next time he opens his mouth to speak or think carefully before writing to the media. Not everything should be in Facebook, should it?

I hope the leader of his political party takes this matter of politicians without wisdom saying things recklessly and arrogantly to be dealt with justly and with political correctness.

I have seen the leader of a political party humbling himself and his party for the sake of the nation in asking for forgiveness from rival political parties so that a unity government can come about for the sake of all of us.

Now, this politician has great wisdom and is a great asset to the country. Ini macam punya orang, kita maulah!

The Malays cannot accept Western style directness in criticism. That is why they invented the idea of “sindiran” or “membahasakan lawan.”

Many Malaysians know how to speak Bahasa Melayu, but many do not understand the Melayu adab. So that is why we are where we were 70 years ago in race relations and trusts.

Our politics of forming government has just changed drastically but unfortunately some politicians like that Penang fellow masih dok macam tu jugak!

Please-lah, Tuan Yang Berhormat, for the sake of Malaysia, tolong adjust sikitlah cara cakap!

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)


Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi


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