THE announcement last week by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that new batches of civil servants will not be on a pensions scheme but will be contributing to the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) for their retirement benefits created much confusion so much so that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had to come out to say that such policy change is still at the proposal stage.
I am not sure what prompted Zahid to make such announcement when details of the policy change have not been confirmed yet.
For such an important policy change, the government must ensure proper stakeholder engagement and buy-in before any official announcements are made.
The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (CUEPACs) and the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) are among the key stakeholders which must be engaged.
Among the issues which need to be discussed in detail include:
(i) The salary revision scheme for existing civil servants including benefits and allowances which is already ongoing.
(ii) The salary scheme for those under the proposed new EPF and long-term employment scheme including benefits and allowances (this needs to be announced together with the revision in the salary scheme of current civil servants so that a proper comparison can be made).
(iii) Process and transparency of promotions at all levels but especially at the administrative and diplomatic officer (PTD)/management level (to address the issue of unfairness and lack of transparency in the promotion process).
(iv) Talent development and upskilling among civil servants (to allow non-degree civil servants to gain better qualifications and have better promotion prospects and to allow PTD staff to upskill themselves via Masters and even PhD programmes in a more transparent manner and with adequate funding).
(v) Other human resource challenges such as transfer requests and requests not to transfer especially for the teachers.
(vi) The overall financial implication of these policy changes so that the financial markets are assured that these changes will not negatively impact government spending in the long-term
A comprehensive communications plan should also be developed so that when this announcement is made with public support from the relevant stakeholders, these policy changes cannot be “spun” and used to attack the government in ways which are inaccurate.
The proposal of revising the employment terms of new batches of civil servants is worthy of deliberation and consideration but must be done in a systematic and well-planned manner rather than in a rushed and haphazard manner. – Feb 2, 2024
Former DAP MP for Bangi Ong Kian Ming was also the deputy international trade and industry minister during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration (July 2018-February 2020).
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.