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Friday, January 8, 2010

Extend service of only deserving civil servants

TALKING to friends who are senior officers in the civil service recently, I was made to understand that the Government is contemplating to raise the retirement age for civil servants from 58 to 60. Before a final decision is made, a careful study must be done on the merits and demerits of this move.

The positive aspect of it will be that at 58, many civil servants still have many productive years left. The country also needs the experience and expertise of certain civil servants, especially now that the Government is about to launch the new economic model to transform Malaysia from a middle income country to a high income country.

In many countries, the retirement age for public sector employees is between 60 and 65, and consequently, this move will also be justified as the average life span for a male in this country is now around 72, while for a female it is around 74.

Therefore, if health permits, civil servants can still be productive and continue to discharge their duties diligently.

I feel that if the Government is to increase the retirement age to 60, then this must be done on a selective basis and not across the board. Prior to attaining the mandatory retirement age of 58, civil servants should be invited to apply to be considered for a two-year extension.

Only those with good service records should be given the additional two years. The extension should only be given to those whose average yearly performance rating is no less than 90% for the past five years prior to their retirement. In this way, the inefficient and mediocre civil servants can be weeded out.

With the advent of computerisation, many posts can now be made redundant and the civil service can still function effectively with fewer employees.

It is time for the Government to trim the public sector, as it pays a sizeable amount in salaries and pensions. The Government cannot indefinitely increase the number of public sector employees and payment of salaries and pensions at the expense of other deserving projects. Malaysia, today, has among the highest public sector employees vis-a-vis the population.

Once the size of the civil service is trimmed, the Government can then consider better wages for its meticulous civil servants. The civil service will be an avenue of employment only for the industrious, and not one for the mediocre and apple polishers.

JAMES GONZALES,

Kuala Lumpur.

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