Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A more balanced civil service vital

Civil service must reflect racial composition

At the 1Malaysia seminar organised by the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) recently, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)’s Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi highlighted the unhealthy the racial composition in the civil service.

According to him the lopsided racial composition of the civil service is the result of ignoring the provisions in the Federal Constitution that prohibit race discrimination. These provisions have been conveniently forgotten for obvious reasons. This sentiment which was once held by the non-Malays is now increasingly being shared by more and more Malaysians of all races in the country, including the Malays.

This is a positive and encouraging development that came into being after the last general elections which saw the debut of the multiracial Pakatan Rakyat.
The civil service is the backbone of the government in its service to the people of diverse ethnicity. The racial composition of the civil service must be given serious consideration as failing to redress it may have far reaching implications on the peace and harmony in the country.

In fact this lopsided racial composition in the civil service, including public universities and other government-controlled institutions can be said to be main contributing factor to the deteriorating race relations in the country and the fundamental cause of the many socio-political ills that plague us today.

The Federal Constitution very clearly provides for the special status of the Malays and other bumiputra groups from Sabah and Sarawak and it equally guarantees the legitimate interests of the others races in the country. It further stipulates that job opportunities and promotions in the public service should be awarded fairly to all deserving Malaysians. Whereas the former has been overemphasised over and over, unfortunately the latter provisions have been long overlooked.

Of late the effects of this monopolisation of the civil service by a single ethnic group have been manifested in the many unhealthy incidences that have shocked the nation in recent times. The civil service, particularly the schools, police and now the MACC, is seen to be a Malay institution and any action taken by its staff against the non-Malays is perceived to racially bias which may not be the case in many instances.

This negative perception in the minds of a segment of the population does not augur well for the long term well-being of a multiracial and multi-religious country. It is time for our leaders especially from Umno and BN, who have the power and means, to correct this perception by deliberate attempts to correct the racial composition of the civil service to reflect the ethnic composition of the country.

To behave in a racist manner when surrounded by members of one’s own community is easy and at times convenient and beneficial as we all have such a trait inherent in us. However the presence of other races in our midst will act as a restraint to prevent us from overtly expressing such views that would hurt the feelings of others. It will make one more conscious of the sensitivities of others around him thereby refrain him from passing sensitive remarks that would be hurtful to others.

Having a multiracial civil service will go a long way to instill first tolerance and then respect for the believes and cultures of others different from our own.It will help in the efforts to to overcome the main problem that the country is facing - racial disunity and polarisation.

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