Following a complaint by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the civil service was too big, the Congress of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has contended that the increase of civil servants was in line with the overall growth of the Malaysian population.
According to Sinar Harian, its president Azih Muda said he respected Mahathir’s view nonetheless.
“Mahathir mentioned that there were only one million civil servants when he left the government in 2003. The Malaysian population was only 16 million then. Now, it has increased to 32 million.
“In the past 16 years, many schools, hospitals, police stations and military control centres have been built to serve the growing population. For Cuepacs, the 1.7 million civil servants is not too big,” he was quoted as saying.
While Azih claims Malaysia had a population of 16 million in 2003, World Bank data shows the population that year to be above 24 million.
At a Defence Ministry event yesterday, Mahathir had said that the civil service ought to be reduced, further suggesting that technology could be used to help manage the size.
However, he also recognised that doing so would cause unemployment and cause “social problems” for the country.
Azih urged the Pakatan Harapan government to maintain the civil service at its present size.
“We believe that the existing number of civil servants will help our country grow,” he said.
In fact, Azih opined that perhaps more civil servants were needed.
“Our visits to government hospitals have shown that hospital staff have not increased even though patients have increased. There are also many patients in daily clinics, but not many people work there.
“The staff are under pressure and don’t even have time to eat or drink. How would you feel if you were understaffed?” he asked.