The number of civil services in Malaysia seems to be “high” because the definition covers the defense and military sector (police and military), health and education. Not all countries have a comprehensive definition like Malaysia. There are many constraints of having huge size of civil service.
First constraint to be highlighted in this issue is increase public spending (Carvalho, Sivanandam, Rahim, & Tan, 2019). Our current Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pointed out that the size of the civil service has become huge and has been a long-term concern as it continues to boost the government’s financial burden and reduce the allocation for development purposes at the same time. If the situation was uncontrolled, the high cost of management spending for the government will continue to take the bulk of the state budget each year and will slow down economic growth. He also explained, that the government is looking at the feasibility of privatizing parts of the public sector in a bid to address its bloated size. The government had introduced a similar drive that touched on the functions of the private sector in national development and have reduced financial burden while improving efficiency and quality of work, stimulating economic growth and improving the effective distribution of resources in 1983. For example, this can be seen in the success of privatizing Telekom. Its employees were transferred to a private company. This has reduced the number of civil servants working in the public sector. Moreover, cutting off the size of the civil service does not mean that job opportunities are lacking. This is especially true when privatization takes place. Then, the government believes that size can be reduced without affecting the delivery of services, performance and income sources for the officers involved. Next, among the factors that drive high cost of living are due to the rise in civil service salaries. When the government increases civil servant salaries, the public sector will follow it, and the cost of living will continue to rise. Lastly, he also explained that there are various bodies with big amount of salaries that can reach tens of thousands of ringgits per month have been set up by the previous government. Therefore, all will be discontinued because their services are not required.
Second constraint to be highlighted in this issue is nonetheless than transparency in the civil service (David, 2019). The existence of bureaucracy leads to red tape where there are so many procedures to be followed yet each single one of them are compulsory even though it has taken a long time to wait for settling even one matter. Restricted movement of process somehow could make one’s loss patient, yet people always demand for an effective and faster means to get things done. Thus, these group of people who wish things to be done quickly somehow willing themselves to involve in corruption as an alternative. Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, the former president of Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M), has stated that there are 55.1 per cent of Malaysians involved in graft. Based on the statistic shown which has been observed within five years since 2013, the average age of Malaysians who are committed in corruption are between 20 and 39 (Arif, 2019). Not only that, these people are in fact find themselves comfortable with the ‘easy-money’ concept which was practiced by the previous government before Pakatan Harapan (PH). Dr. Mahathir stressing on this matter where the country’s wealth is meant to be shared equally. Otherwise, the country would be in full chaos. As for the long-term effects, the next generation will be the one whom will face the consequences as the aftermath.
Third constraint to be highlighted in this issue is redundancy of the job (Tan, 2018). Redundancy of the job will make a civil service do not productivity and low of performance. Civil service needs to meet their KPIs in doing their job to improve their quality of services (Wong, 2019 ). Government need to take an action to stop employment. Stop employment means not to fired civil services right away but to reallocate the civil services. Civil services that have a redundancy job need to reallocate to area that shortage of manpower. Shortage of manpower can be solving by having reallocate of civil services rather than hire new civil services that will make an increasing number of civil services. For example, JAKIM has transferring the teachers to another department or Ministry. By having the transferring, JAKIM has reducing their budget which is RM800mil just to pay the salaries of 30,000 religious’ teachers. Besides that, government can reduce the number of foreign workers. Reducing of foreign worker can make the Malaysians work overseas return to work at the country especially those with expertise and skills. Government can pay the Malaysians with the suitable salary instead pay the foreign worker. The Government need to study and identify the right size of the manpower needed for at least in 5 years plan. For example, MACC and the Attorney General Chamber is the department that need more manpower resource. Find a right size right now is better rather need to down-size later.
Fourth constraint to be highlighted in this issue is huge political appointment. After the previous election in our country (GE14), the new government have come out with an idea to terminate 17,000 officers. These officers were being said to be elected due to the political appointees. According to our current Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, there were too many contract officers which was elected through political appointees. He added that the some of the officers was recruited to fulfill the administrative requirements. However, there are a huge number of them was being elected due to their “political” game (Tun M, 2018). According to the United States of Government Ethics, a political appointee is any employee who is appointed by the president, vice-president or the Head of Agency. The main question to this issue in the context of Malaysia is to understand and identify who the appointees are. Based on the statement given by the United States of Government Ethics, the political appointees in Malaysia are the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers and the Head of State Government (www.thestar.com). For example, the Chief Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar has previously stated that the one that should be served by the civil servants are the people including the taxpayer and not the politician. According to our Prime Minister, many civil servants refused to work with the government while raising the issue of sabotaging the government policies. Added more my Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar, civil servants job performance shall be in line with the slogan of “Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy” and all performance shall be served ethically (Bernama, 2018).
As a conclusion, there are many constraints of having a huge civil service which is financial burden to government, transparency in civil service, redundancy of the job and huge political appointment. Government need to down-size the amount of civil services and find the right size for civil services in Malaysia.