Friday, June 17, 2016

Questions raised over govt’s reply on civil service employment

KUCHING: State lawmakers and community leaders welcome the efforts of the government to defend its appointment and promotion of officers in the Civil Service.

However, most believe that the government is avoiding to give a transparent report of the actual situation by diverting attention to employment in other sectors such as government-linked companies, local government and statutory bodies as delivered by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah in his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

Uggah also delved into the employment situation in the private sector to justify the glaring uneven racial composition of the state civil service.

“We never questioned the private sector composition and recruitment practices. If we include the private sector recruitment and employment components, the picture will be greatly different. To look at the public sector component only is not a complete representation of employment in the state,” said Uggah Chong Chieng Jen, state DAP chairman, said the state government has no intention to make right the ‘lop-sided racial composition of civil service’.

The Bandar Kuching MP said this was despite Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing openly saying two weeks ago that ‘It’s time to make amends’.

He noted that the racial composition of the management and executive level of the state civil service was exposed two weeks ago in the May 28 issue of The Borneo Post, that among the total 1,478 state civil servants, Malays constituted 54 per cent while Dayaks constituted 28 per cent and Chinese 17 per cent.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, further noted that the racial imbalance was even more starkly obvious when it came to the top posts – the Jusa grade – where Malays constituted 65 per cent while Dayaks and Chinese each constitute 17 per cent.

He said immediately after this figure was exposed in The Borneo Post, Masing jumped up to comment and said that ‘it’s time to make amends’ so that the racial composition of the State Civil Service could be more balanced and representative of the racial composition of the Sarawak population which was 29.8 per cent Malay/ Melanau, 45.3 per cent Dayak and 24 per cent Chinese.
“(However), Yesterday (Wednesday), in DUN, DCM  Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, while answering this issue raised by me, claimed that ‘all is well’.

“Douglas Uggah even used the argument of the racial composition of the private sector to justify such racial imbalance in the State Civil Service. Has Douglas Uggah been in Peninsular Malaysia for far too long that he is now thinking like an Umno minister?

“Such ridiculous answer and reasoning has always been the standard reply of an Umno minister who is trying to justify the lop-sided racial composition in the government civil service.”

Chong said employment and recruitment in the private sector is a matter of private affair whereas employment and recruitment in government civil service is a public policy matter, adding that private sector employment is financed by private funds whereas government employment is financed by public funds.

“As elected representatives and ministers, we discuss and formulate public policies on government employment and recruitment policies. Don’t mix the two up and try to justify the government’s unfair policies.

“Under the present racial composition, not only is the Chinese community under-represented in the government civil service but the Dayaks are also grossly under-represented.”

He said with the answer given by Uggah, it seemed that the state government would continue with such policy of racially biased nature.

“It is regrettable also that James Masing, who was the most vocal one in newspapers against such lop-sided racial composition in state civil service, was sitting just next to Douglas Uggah when the latter was making the ridiculous statement in DUN, yet James Masing just sat quietly there.”

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How suggested instead of being an apologist, Uggah should look into the general public contention and vilification towards the appointment and promotion of officers in the public service.

See said this was to ensure that the Sarawak state public sector is of the highest quality, most efficient and effective to serve the best interest of our state.

“The Federal Constitution, particularly Articles 153 and 161A, and the corresponding Article 39 of the Sarawak State Constitution have made provisions for positive discrimination and preferential treatment to safeguard the special position of the indigenous and native communities in Sarawak.

“Sarawak is probably the only plural nation-state in the world which has shown, through its past and contemporary history, that all the people can meet and live in its true spirits, and will stand together to defend those constitutional safeguards,” he said yesterday.

See was commenting on Uggah’s statement during his winding-up speech in the DUN on Wednesday that the government would address the issue on employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.

He said Uggah implied that the representation of the employment should also be read together with the situation in the private sector.

“We never questioned the private sector composition and recruitment practices. If we include the private sector recruitment and employment components, the picture will be greatly different. To look at the public sector component only is not a complete representation of employment in the state,” stressed Uggah.

See, who is state PKR vice chairman, said the deputy chief minister was not quite correct in using the figures in the ‘Sarawak Public Sector’ to dispute the analytical article by The Borneo Post which questioned the composition and racial representation in the management and professional group of the Sarawak Civil Service.

In the four sectors namely the Sarawak Civil Service, local government, statutory bodies and government linked companies said to constitute the ‘Sarawak Public Sector’, he said the authority on recruitment and promotion in the statutory bodies and government-linked companies does not lie with the Public Service Commission (PSC).

“Including those in the ‘local government’ sector, many of the employees and especially those in the ‘management and professional group’ are actually on contracts of employment and are not the same as those in the state civil service.”

See said it was therefore misleading to refer to all four sectors to show that there are 1,521 Malay/Melanau, 1,023 Dayak and 1,162 Chinese in the ‘management and professional group’ and that they respectively constitute 11 per cent, 10 per cent and 28 per cent of the ‘Sarawak Public Sector’, without saying how many of these ‘public servants’ of the respective groups are actually on contracts of employment.

“The deputy chief minister is risking himself to be accused of his racist undertone in singling out the lesser number of Chinese but that comparatively higher percentage of 28 per cent of them are in the ‘management and professional group’.

“It in fact only corroborates the public perception of the huge disparity in racial composition and representation in the public sector, as highlighted by The Borneo Post, that there are 13,827 ethnic Malay/Melanau (49 per cent), 10,230 Dayak (36 per cent) and 4,150 Chinese (14 per cent) in the Sarawak Public Sector with the fact that most of the ethnic Chinese in the management and professional group are on contracts of employment.

“It is also clear and obvious that the ethnic Dayaks are comparatively under-represented in the management and professional group or the public sector as a whole.”

Be that as it may, he said it was right for Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem who is heading the state committee on employment in the various sectors to look into the various issues including the right ethnic composition in the public sector with a view to ensure that “we will have the best state public sector in the country which can deliver the most efficient and effective service to serve the best interest of our state”.

Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) president Dr Dusit Jaul urged the state government to focus on the original issue – that is the recruitment in the public sector, instead of covering the track by bringing the private sector into the picture.

“In general, the original issue is the recruitment in public sector. Don’t blur the picture by bringing in the private sector into it. I’m sure the private sector have their policy and procedure.

“Just focus on the original issue (that is) lopsided representation and tackle it to the satisfaction of all stakeholders where you must apply the element of inclusiveness and fairness because inclusiveness and fairness have been the cornerstone of our government policy.”

Dusit said nowadays, the government could not hide facts from the people especially the younger generation as they were more discerning.

“The feedback from the Dayak community is that there is a high expectation on our two Dayak deputy chief ministers (Masing and Uggah) to address this issue.”

Chung Hua Middle School No. 1, 3 and 4 board of management chairman Richard Wee said the response from Uggah on this issue was most welcoming and hoped that the committee set up to address this issue would look into the details of the ratio of the civil service from the different races to reflect the composition of the races in Sarawak.

“We also hope that there is a transparent system and procedure for the recruitment and promotion process for our civil service. That way, it will encourage our younger generations to consider joining the civil service and hopefully it will become the first choice for their career path and provide a healthy competition with the private sector.

“A fair and transparent system will give a positive signal to all communities and hopefully will instil confidence in our youths in our civil service that fair evaluation and meritocracy will be the measurement for recruitment and promotion for all races.”

In welcoming the positive approach taken by the state government, Wee hoped that the committee would come up with proper guidelines for the future of the younger generations and have a fair and transparent implementation of the new guidelines and policies.

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