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Call for major overhaul of  top hierarchy of public services such as Public Services Department and other appointing authorities to set an example of efficiency, competenc, productivity and work ethics  in the million-strong public sector

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Ipoh, Friday) :  The time has come for a major overhaul of the top hierarchy of the public services such as the Public Services Department and other appointing authorities to set an example of efficiency, competence, productivity and work ethics in  the million-strong public sector.


A good example  of this problem is the appointment of the current seventh Datuk Bandar of Ipoh, Datuk Mohamad Rafiai Moktar, who has less than a year of public service left before retirement.


Is Rafiai’s appointment in the best interests of the people of Ipoh or in his best personal interest?  With his final public promotion, Rafiai would end up with a pension with an extra RM600 a month and other perks, but what has it in store for the people of Ipoh?


With less than a year of public service left, a public servant would be thinking of his retirement plans than of a new vision to transform Ipoh into a model local authority in the country.


It is no wonder that Rafiai has mishandled and created a mess of the Ipoh City Council coupon parking system involving  6,000 new parking lots, requiring the personal intervention of the Perak Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali, who is to personally tour Ipoh in a bus to re-evaluate the designated zones.


It is commendable that the Perak Mentri Besar is showing personal interest on this issue which has  created such a furore and so much anger among the people of Ipoh, but isn’t this evidence of the failure and incompetence of Rafiai to effectively and efficiently carry out his duties as the seventh Datuk Bandar of Ipoh?


Ipoh councilors have publicly said that they knew nothing about the zones designated for the coupon parking system, which is most scandalous. Whose fault is it – the Ipoh mayor, the councilors or the entire rotten appointed local government system?


Important public appointments should not be regarded as a “golden handshake” for the public servants to end their career with higher pensions and other perks,  but strictly based  on the  suitability and  credentials of the nominees to bring new vision,  fresh ideas,   vigorous commitment and higher standards  to their jobs.


There is something amiss with the  practice of appointing public servants in their  final year of service to top civil service posts – raising the question whether this is meant as a “golden handshake” or because of their competence and capability to bring a new vision, fresh ideas, vigorous commitment and higher standards  to the job, and if so, why they were not appointed earlier so that they would have adequate time of say at least two years  to spell out and implement their ideas of reform.


This problem reaches as high as the appointment of the Chief Secretary to the Government.


Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, who just retired, was appointed the No. 1 public servant in April 2001, when he was 11 months before his mandatory retirement age on March 3 the following year. His service was extended on a contract basis thrice, the last one being a six-month extension.


The new Chief Secretary, formerly International Trade and Industry Ministry secretary-general, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who took up his new appointment on Sunday, would reach his mandatory retirement age in nine months’ time in  June next year.


If Mohd Sidek is suitable caliber for Chief Secretary, why wasn’t he appointed very much earlier so that he had at least two years to bring to his job his vision and new ideas for government reform, in keeping with the commitment of the new Prime Minister to bring about civil service reform?


Many important public posts have been left vacant for considerable periods, including judicial appointments like High Court judges, Court of Appeal judges and Federal Court judges – when such prolonged vacancies should be rare occurrences as such vacancies do not occur suddenly but are within the knowledge of the appointing authorities who have very long periods of notice.


Parliament had been without a Secretary for close to a month, although the appointing authorities knew  long ago that the previous Parliament Secretary Datuk Abdullah bin Abdul Wahab would retire on August 16, 2006.


This does not speak well for the competence, efficiency and work ethics of the highest hierarchies of the public services and this is why there should be a  major overhaul of  the Public Services Department and other appointing authorities to set an example of efficiency, competence, productivity and work ethics in the public sector.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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