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How many performance-based promotion in the civil service in the past three years  or is there only  one example of Dr. Rebecca in MITI  in the over million-strong civil servants?


Media Statement  
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Tuesday) : In his New Sunday Times interview, “THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY SIDES OF CIVIL SERVANTS”(January 14, 2007),  the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said that civil servants who break the rules or under-perform will get the boot. 

In the interview, which was given front-page headline  “Listen up, civil servants - SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT”,  Sidek  said errant officials also risk a pay cut, being left stagnant in their position or demoted. 

He debunked the myth that civil servants could stay in service until retirement despite wrongdoings.

Putting an end to the practice of promotion based on seniority, he said advancement in the civil service would only be based on performance.

Civil servants are used to the idea that seniority will take them places. This will no longer be the case.

He said: "Unless they perform, they can expect to remain where they are for years to come, as promotions are not automatic or purely based on seniority.

"That would be too easy, and they would take things for granted and not bother to perform.

"If I do not enforce this, I am not doing justice to the service."  

Sidek said hardworking civil servants will be rewarded with promotion over their seniors.

On meritocracy, he said it was in place but had not been strictly enforced.

Sidek said he would personally look at the track record of senior officers up for promotion.

"If an officer’s name is sent to the promotions board, I will look at the performance of the ministry he represents, his performance and his contributions."

Sidek cited the case of International Trade and Industry Ministry deputy secretary-general (trade) Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria’s quick rise to her position despite being junior to many officers.

He said Sta Maria was an exemplary civil servant with excellent work ethics and performance.

He said: "What is the point of having 10 years of experience if your performance and capabilities remain the same as when you first came into service?  If a junior proves to be better, he would be promoted over the senior."

What Sidek is most commendable and long overdue, as evident by the relentless decline and erosion of the Malaysian civil service’s world-class standards and reputation in the first decade of nationhood, to the extent that the civil service has become a drag and obstacle to enhance the country’s international competitiveness.

There had been past promises of civil service  promotions based on performance and meritocracy but nothing  had  come  out of them.  Will Sidek’s promise this time be any  different from past broken pledges?

If what Sidek said is not to be another broken pledge of civil service reform, all promotion exercises in the higher echelons of the civil service must be monitored closely by Parliament, the media and the civil society.

The Government must co-operate closely with Parliament, the media and the civil society to enable  such monitoring of civil service promotions based on meritocracy and performance to be conducted in a  meaningful manner, with the emplacement of satisfactory and effective mechanisms.

For a start, Sidek should give the public the basic data and information over the past three years about civil service promotions, for instance: 

  • The number of meritocracy-and-performance-based promotions, identifying the officers concerned  or is there only  one example of Dr. Rebecca in MITI so far in the past three years  in the over million-strong civil service?


  • The number of officers who had been given the boot for breaking the rules or underperforming in the past three years.


  • The number of errant officials  who suffered pay-cuts, being left stagnant in their position or demoted in the past three years.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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