PETALING JAYA: Further reforms are needed to improve the Malaysian public sector and increase its effectiveness, say experts.
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) director of research Laurence Todd said that while the Malaysian public sector had historically performed well in the region, its progress was at risk of slowing down.
“In the case of public sector efficiency, the cumulative cost of corruption, lack of competition, in both appointments and procurement, and low levels of openness are taking their toll and holding back Malaysia’s development,” he said.
While the new administration had put in place significant changes to redress this, he said certain actions threatened to set their own reform agenda back.
“Pakatan Harapan has a number of important reforms, including the National Anti-Corruption Plan and the Government Procurement Act.
“However, it is too soon to tell whether the government has sufficient political will to deliver meaningful change.
“Recent appointments being made behind closed-doors and refusal to share key government documents, such as the report by the Council of the Eminent Persons, have damaged confidence that the government is committed to doing things differently,” he said.
To further revamp the public service, Todd said the government needed to look into its size and the suitability of the people appointed.
“The public service has continually expanded, with the government unwilling to take the hard decisions to let people go, not least because of the political backlash,” he said.
Some suggestions for reforms, he said, included putting in place a voluntary early redundancy scheme and introducing competency-based appointments.
Datuk Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin of the Group of 25 Eminent Malays (G25) said proper education and training had to be provided to public servants to carry out their duties efficiently and effectively.
The organisational structure in the public sector must also be streamlined, she said, so that there would not be any overlaps in functions and roles.
“The public sector is huge compared to other countries, that is the problem. The size is too untenable and it is not affordable for the government,” said Noor Farida.
She said the government must re-train the public servants.
“It needs to stop expanding and creating more government departments and divisions within ministries,” she said.
Cuepacs president Datuk Azih Muda declined to comment on the matter.