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The Malaysian government has decided to give an ex-gratia of RM500 each for civil servants and pensioners to celebrate Aid Fitr 2010 (Hari raya) that is the day following 30 days of fasting. The celebration is expected to fall on September 10. Remember there was no annual bonus for the same people at the end of 2009?

Many Federal civil servants and pensioners woke up this morning very happy at the news. And we hear Perak state also follows the” good” example. It is likely that other BN-controlled states would also jump on the bandwagon. This gesture is rather unexpected and unusual and looks like the 13th general election is around the corner. Good for you all federal civil servants and pensioners. The whole deal would cost the government (and tax payers) over RM 900 million.

Following this generous announcement, the Cuepacs senior officer took the opportunity to say it was him who “asked” the PM for it on behalf of the civil servants. It looks nice that way. But don’t forget people, it is Lim Guan Eng, the thoughtful Penang CM you all have to thank for. It was his opposition government that announced much earlier a gift of RM400 for all Penang state’s civil servants before the Hari Raya. He was the smarter one, without doubt. It sounds to me that appreciation and bribery does have a blurry interface! But when done in this massive and “transparent manner” who would dare to question? After all, as they say, in Malaysia “semua boleh” ( you can do anything).

We know who the civil servants are, but others should not despair too much because the money will be spent and the business will benefit and we know who the businesspeople are. So all around will benefit from this sudden flush of money in time for the celebration.

So people it is good to have an opposition government in some states as they would want to outdo each other and the central government. I just hope they all do not overdo it and end up like Greece!

Having said all that, I have this nagging feeling that why the so-called gift is made in relation to one ethnic group’s religious celebration? There are three major ethnic groups in Malaysia and any special treatment palmed out by the government of the day should appear to cover all three; as an end – of – year salary bonus purports to reflect. In this case, what happens to the concept of 1 Malaysia?

In the meantime, civil servants should thank Lim Guan Eng, the new architect of popular politics through the wallet. He is learning fast. And as for PM Najib, he seems sedate but he will play even when it is contrary to his oft repeated slogan of 1 Malaysia.

Political considerations do seem to override almost anything even personal conviction.


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