The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has voiced its disagreements with a proposal to reduce the size of the public service in Malaysia.
According to reports by the Free Malaysia Today, its president Datuk Azih Muda said the proposal was unreasonable and in conflict with the current situation as the country was still experiencing staff shortages in the public sector.
Additionally, Azih pointed out that the actual number of civil servants in the country was actually around 500,000 and not 1.6 million as widely reported in the media, New Straits Times reported.
Azih told a press conference, after attending a special congress in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, that he was commenting on a suggestion made by former Finance Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim at a forum on Monday that the government should consider initiating headcount cuts in the civil service to reduce spending.
The immediate past president of the Malaysian Economic Association also said that it was more kind to initiate retrenchment with proper compensation and incentives now rather than let the situation worsen, the New Straits Times reported.
Disagreeing with the idea, Azih pointed out that based on the Federal Constitution, Malaysia’s civil service included the armed forces, police, education and health personnel whereas these four sectors were not included in other developed countries.
“Do not equate Malaysia with other countries because we are different. We mix and classify all the sectors under the civil service.
“The fact is, when we go on the ground and take a look at the public service sector, we will find there is a shortage of staff,” he told the press conference, Free Malaysia Today reported.
Azih pointed out that if analysed thoroughly, there are only 500,000 civil servants in the workforce, not including the four sectors mentioned before, according to New Straits Times. "Thus, it is unfair to say that our civil service sector is bloated,” he said.
He said Cuepacs members were disappointed that the suggestion was made by a former civil servant who is now retired from the service.
“We have never asked the government to reduce or end the pension to retirees because we appreciate their service.
“They should do the same and not suggest something that can add burden to the people," he said.
He called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak not to heed to the suggestion because doing so would only anger those in the civil service.
According to Free Malaysia Today, on Monday, former Treasury secretary-general Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim was reported to have said that the government should consider downsizing the public service if a 3% fiscal deficit was to be achieved.
In Azih's opinion, instead of reducing the size of the civil service workforce, the main priority should be to find a formula to increase productivity, work performance and discipline among public servants.
He said this was more important because with improved civil service performance, this would be able to help the country to achieve a high-income developed status.
“There are many more important issues that should be considered such as productivity and cost of living, but these parties are more interested in issues which can lead to anxiety among civil servants. Such sentiments are unhealthy.”
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