Professionalism missing in Malaysia’s Sir Humphrey?

KTemoc Konsiders

There is yet another excellent article in Malaysiakini by Dr Bridget Welsh, an associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University. She is travelling around Malaysia to provide her GE13 analyses exclusively to Malaysiakini.

Her latest article is titled People or party? Wooing civil servants in which she wrote:

In caretaker Premier Najib Abdul Razak’s political targeting, one group has received special attention – civil servants. Why would those in the heart of government garner such special focus for an election? The reality is that in Malaysia’s close electoral races, civil servants can be decisive in shaping the final tallies. This is one of the groups that I will be highlighting as decisive in this campaign.

Over the past few years Najib’s administration has worked to stem the erosion of support from his traditional base of government employees with mixed results.

Civil servants make up 1.4 million voters, or 10.5 percent of the electorate. The civil service is made up of senior appointments, the police, army personnel, teachers, and a variety of industrial and manual (IMG) groups. There are also an estimated 657,000 government pensioners.

There is an incorrect tendency to label all civil servants as pro UMNO, though it’s true many are.

In fact, as mentioned by RPK, some civil servants provided (maybe still provide) him with information unfavourable to the BN government which they wanted exposed, indicating those civil servants were not supportive of BN.

My uncle who (postal) voted in 1969 as an army officer told me how a couple of army administrative officers (popularly known by the British Raj term of Admin-wallahs because our military was nurtured by the colonial British military), who administered the military postal voting process in May 1969, were urging the Malay soldiers to vote PAS and the non-Malays (in the non-RMR services) to vote DAP and Gerakan, wakakaka.

And as we have witnessed recently, PKR and PAS have a few senior (retired) military officers of flag rank (admiral, generals) in their membership. So not all civil servants or military members would automatically be pro UMNO. But to reiterate, the majority would be.

But yes, it can be said that most of the middle ranking and senior civil servants have favoured the conservative BN, in particular UMNO.

This is not be so strange as in most countries like Australia, Britain and USA, there is similar political proclivity, where their military stationed overseas would be expected to (postal) vote conservative (eg. Coalition in Australia, Conservative in Britain and Republican in USA), thus like their civilian counterparts, the military middle ranking and senior officers would be in general (but not completely) pro conservative (in Malaysia’s case, UMNO).

But I want to talk about a couple of things regarding our very much bloated civil service, probably the biggest civil service per population in the world. The last statistic for the Malaysia Civil Service (MCS) that I know is 1.3 million, equating that to approximately 1 civil servant for every 23 Malaysian citizens.

On that basis we should be well served, but I doubt you’d agree to this.