It never ceases to amaze me how a major review of existing scheme or service including the most recent SBPA (Saraan Baru Perkhidmatan Awam) or New Public Service Remuneration Scheme seems to fail at the implementation stage. This failure usually reflects poor planning. Matters like this usually takes a longer time to discuss as it involves parties with differing interests and perspective. Not enough time is given to these people to have their views heard,discussed and later modified, adapted, adopted, accepted or discarded .
A Multi-sectoral consultation and meeting, undoubtedly, can be lengthy and costly in terms of time,money and effort. A time/activity charts and effective moderators are invaluable. Having sat at national and international meetings, I can tell you that these articulate “creatures” are indeed few.
Clear objectives and groundwork have to be formulated and developed and most importantly succinctly articulated. There is no such things as a review without any constraints be it funding or budgeting. It looks to me the government has somewhat lost its leading role in this debacle, reading this article and another one here in the Malaysian Insider.
An implementation failure of a review such as this is quickly capitalized by the opposition who are always wise after the event. It makes the government appear incompetent and not inclusive. Perhaps PKR is right in accusing Putrajaya as bulldozing the civil service emoluments review in time for the upcoming general election.
Someone has miscalculated the response of those who are the so-called biggest stakeholders – the non-premier groups. And how does the government plan to increase the salary of these groups without bursting its allocated fund? Right from the beginning a respective percentage increase based on agreed formulas should have been worked out and then only those other perks outlined and discussed.
Imagine the implementation of SBPA is supposed to be on January 1 2012 and at the rate things are going, it does not look as if it is going to be finalised very soon. It is not an easy task for the Chairman of the review Taskforce of the structural review (sounds complicated?) of the new emolument’s plan that is integral to SBPA currently being disputed by CUEPACS . Knowing the chairman, I think they are all in for a long haul!
CUEPACS representing the majority of government staff should not take an extreme fighting stance as the government in their haste to implement the SBPA might just give in and inadvertently cop out more than it can financially afford.
The story of the unions’ demands in France, Greece and the UK to a certain extent, has shown how destructive economically it is in the long run, pandering to those “socialist-leaning” workers!
I am not scare-mongering, far from that. What I am trying to say is the government appears to have failed to do an exhaustive groundwork on this new wage plan for civil servants though, without doubt, they have the best of intention. The officers seem to have no clear guidelines on the approach to instituting the differing change in the salary status quo. On what basis are those increases made? Surely there is some formulas being employed to arrive at them. Can they justify those considered factors? If they have done enough homeworks, they can get this “stalemate” resolved faster. And disregard the stakeholders at your folly! Gone are the days when you could just ram in your “whims and fancies” so to speak.
Letting CUEPACS has its way is also unwise. To them seniority must be preserved at all cost, demolishing the precept that it is knowledge,skill and talent which enrich and drive any organisation. To CUEPACS, it is better to stay mediocre as long as workers are happy! An inward looking notion indeed. It also seems that CUEPACS have the tendency to overlook meritocracy, the higher burden of responsibility and accountability besides the entry qualifications and extra post-graduate degrees that higher-ranking officers possess to justify the salary. If the salary gap between the officers and lower category staff is getting narrower, where is the incentive for our children to study hard, get admitted to a university and excel and serve in the government?
How can an accountant,an engineer, a doctor or a dentist has a similar grade with an arts graduate on joining the civil service? It has been an unfair scheme for so many years. Union-less, they suffer in silence. No weightage is given to the length of the course or the inherent difficulties. No wonder the private sector is more attractive to the talented and the government is left with the “foam”.
And so we have very senior civil servants who have a degree in history/geography/language studies with a master or even PhD in public policy from some unknown American University become director-general or secretary general and these people are expected to lead inter-sectoral discussion groups to review services? They will only know how to direct and let their “clever” subordinates do the rest. I have come across such pathetic senior officers in my dealing with government agencies. And one more thing, they are very protocol-conscious and tend to only mingle with their lots in the same seniority.
Feedback from lower officers are best received through respectful interactions/ consultations and not through pure directives. It is possible that our senior civil servants are still acting like the old British MCS officers. Those in UK British civil service now have adopted modern values of inclusiveness and goal-oriented teamwork.
An inclusive civil service culture is only lip service in this country and so is it any wonder that a number of government proposals,projects,programs,restructuring and review are having problems at the implementation level?
Now that CUEPACS has its own group working on fine-tuning the recommendations in SBPA, it’s like a big brother “correcting” a sloppy homework. Some of their grouses, by the way, do have a valid point. An appropriate civil service leadership’s response, would go a long way in making this new scheme implementable without jeopardizing public interests.