KUALA LUMPUR: CUEPACS kecewa dengan pihak tertentu yang suatu ketika dahulu pernah bergelar penjawat awam mahu Kerajaan bertindak mengecilkan saiz perkhidmatan awam.
Presiden CUEPACS, Datuk Azih Muda, menolak cadangan itu yang dianggap tidak munasabah kerana tidak prihatin terhadap nasib kakitangan bawahan seperti golongan B40 dan M40.
Beliau berkata, zaman kini berbeza dengan sebelumnya seiring pertambahan penduduk dan pelancong luar yang sekali gus menjadikan tugas kakitangan awam kian berlambak.
"Situasi semakin membebankan apabila ada jabatan yang kekurangan kakitangan seperti sektor pendidikan dan kesihatan. Bayangkan, seorang guru terpaksa mengajar lebih 40 pelajar dalam satu masa dan manakala seorang doktor terpaksa merawat ramai pesakit di klinik daerah.
"Saya hairan, ....kenapa cadangan ini timbul pada tempoh 'idah' nak dekat Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU). Sebagai seorang pesara, beliau (Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim) sepatutnya sumbang idea bagaimana untuk tingkatkan dedikasi, produktiviti dan integriti kakitangan awam.
"Saya juga berharap cadangan ini bukan bibit-bibit mahu swastakan jabatan tertentu. Tolong ambil iktibar dasar penswastaan sebelum ini yang merugikan," katanya pada sidang media selepas Mesyuarat Kongress Khas di Wisma CUEPACS, di sini, hari ini.
Pada Isnin lalu, bekas ketua setiausaha perbendaharaan, Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim mencadangkan Kerajaan mengecilkan saiz perkhidmatan awam selagi mampu berbuat demikian.
Katanya, langkah itu perlu supaya Malaysia tidak terjerumus ke dalam krisis kewangan seperti yang berlaku di Greece.
Sehubungan itu, Azih meminta pihak tertentu tidak membandingkan Malaysia dengan Greece kerana ekonomi negara ini masih kukuh menyaksikan tiada keperluan untuk membuang atau mengecilkan saiz perkhidmatan awam.
Katanya, saiz kakitangan awam di negara lain kecil berikutan kerajaan mereka mengasingkan sektor kesihatan, pendidikan, polis dan tentera di bawah perkhidmatan awam.
"Dalam konteks perkhidmatan awam di negara ini, sektor pendidikan memiliki sekitar 450,000 kakitangan, kesihatan (270,000), polis dan tentera pula antara 200,000 hingga 300,000 kakitangan.
"Kalau empat sektor itu diasingkan maka memang jumlah (perkhidmatan awam) akan kecil. Kita rasa tidak adil untuk bezakan. Sektor berkenaan penting meskipun Kerajaan berhadapan kekangan kewangan atau sebagainya," katanya.
Penjelasan Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu Pada Januari 2014
M'sian civil service is not bloated
Many comparisons have been made with other countries by simply taking the number of people who are termed public servants and comparing them as a proportion of the population.
However, the problem is that no account is taken of who are considered to be civil servants.
In Malaysia, there are 1.4 (1.6) million civil servants in 28 schemes of service under the Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam or the Public Services Department. They include the federal public service, the state public services, the joint public services, the education service, the judiciary, the legal service, the police and armed forces.
Critics argue that our civil service is bloated compared with the United Kingdom.
They point out that the UK lists its number of civil servants at a paltry 450,000, less than a third of ours. This, in a country whose population at 64 million, is more than two times our population of nearly 30 million.
With this, the Malaysian civil service appears extremely bloated, doesn’t it?
But the fact is, it isn’t. Because the UK defines its civil service rather narrowly as those who work for government departments that report to ministers.
The UK’s National Health Service alone employs nearly 1.3 million people, quite close to our total number of civil servants of 1.4 million.
The UK does not count all these staff as part of their civil service whereas Malaysia includes all doctors, nurses and support staff in our public health system as part of civil service manpower numbers.
Malaysia also includes all teachers in our public schools in our civil service figures but the UK does not. And this is another big difference because teachers alone make up more than 400,000 of our 1.4 million civil servants.
Other critics have used another example – Australia – to show that by comparison, our Malaysian civil service is bloated.
They point out that people employed in the Australian Public Service (APS) – those who work in public administration roles within Australian government departments and agencies – numbered about 169,000 as at June 30, 2012.
Teachers, doctors, soldiers and police are not included as part of their Australian Public Service establishment count.
However, let’s do an apples and apples comparison.
Total employees in the public sector in Australia – and this is a better comparison with our own definition of the civil service – was 1.89 million in mid-2012 against the population then of 22.7 million. That means there is one civil servant for every 12 people in Australia.
Compare that with ours where there are 21 people for every civil servant and our civil service certainly seems less bloated.
This article, however, is not about increasing the numbers of our civil service but to point out that we can and should do more with them. Indeed for the sake of being sustainable and maintaining its relevance, the civil service must re-invent itself.
We have plenty of expertise in the civil service and this puts us in good stead to provide a better quality and quantity of service so that our transformation goals can be met and that there is greater satisfaction of public needs.
And we need to do this while still keeping the numbers down by improving the processes that are important in the delivery of public service.
We can’t afford to have a bloated civil service not only because salaries pose a heavy burden but future pension and healthcare obligations can cripple the government.
We must make the most of what we have and the focus is simply the delivery process – making the civil service more efficient so that more processes can be completed in a shorter time.
While we have not made extensive efficiency studies here for the civil service, extrapolations from other studies done elsewhere indicate that a one percentage point increase in efficiency can bring in a value of RM32bil. We are aiming to achieve just half that – RM16bil worth – in the three years beginning from last October.
It will be driven by the ministries themselves, which have the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to drive the change. We will be the catalysts, providing the tools and facilitating the process across departments where necessary.
Sometimes, when we break up the process, the answers to increased efficiency come pretty fast. Let’s take an example, which we call Lean HealthCare for Hospital Sultan Ismail in Johor. The problem is an orthopaedic patient needs to wait 1 hour and 55 minutes before being seen by a specialist at the hospital. We wanted to reduce this to under 45 minutes, giving this as benchmark using best practices overseas. One simple solution was to get the next patient to sit right outside the door as the doctor was seeing the patient just before him. That saved plenty of time and we were able to meet the 45 minutes target after some other tweaks. The clinic, which previously operated from 8am to 5pm and beyond, was able to clear patients by 2.30pm on most days. We use lean management techniques to remove bottlenecks and focus on the speed at which processes are completed.
Often there are steps in the process which can be cut to reduce time.
Another example from the same hospital is one I used in my last column. This is literally a matter of life and death for it involved shortening the waiting time for cancer patients to undergo radiotherapy treatment. The longer the waiting period the more cancer patients suffer without even having the chance of treatment. Head and neck cancer patients had to wait an average 16 weeks from first oncology consultation before radiotherapy treatment. We are trying to reduce this to eight weeks as our first target. We are running two shifts by freeing up radiotherapists to run another shift using nursing assistants in processes where radiotherapists are not required. And we are sharply cutting down the time needed to plan treatment. By doing this, we are also clearing up the backlog of patients waiting for treatment while previously it was building up day by day.
One more example. In the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) area in Kedah, we are aiming to double padi production by 2020, no mean feat. To do this, we have to acquire land to provide irrigation to the entire area. This acquisition process takes as long as 29 months but we are aiming to shorten it to just 11 months. We have proposed various measures and have engaged the state authorities to reduce the process. We are confident of achieving our goals. But processes are often complex and not all the time amenable to easy solutions. Often there is a need to ensure that things operate in a steady state, in other words the service provided must be reliable.
If we promise to renew passports in an hour, that’s what we must do almost all the time. If, for instance, we do it six out of 10 times, that’s simply not good enough. We simply have to get to the nuts and bolts of processes by breaking them down into every single component, eliminating some and improving others so that the speed of delivery is improved without sacrificing quality.
Limited resources must be optimised.
We can also do a lot in terms of cross-fertilisation of ideas and understanding each other better if we have public servants going into the private sector and those from the private sector becoming civil servants. It will be good if we can come up with some form of secondment system where people from the private and public sectors can work in each other’s areas for set periods of time. The possibilities of such developments are endless and exciting.
Datuk Seri Idris Jala is CEO of Pemandu, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.