Some parties like to make a fuss out of this issue. They claim that the Malaysian government is employing too many people. It was stated that one civil servant in Malaysia is serving 19.37 people in the country whereas countries like the UK, Australia and Japan all have a higher civil servant to population ratio. This certainly raises questions. Why do we need so many public servants at a time when the government should tone down on its spending? Why would Malaysia need more civil servants compared to the more advanced countries that require less? Ridiculous eh?
But let us study the facts at hand first before we jump into any conclusions. In truth, we DO NOT have the most bloated civil service in the world. Despite the claims, the number of our ‘penjawat awam’ is actually not as high when compared to the countries mentioned. Here’s why…
All this while, we were always comparing apples with general fruits. Why? Because of the differences in definitions of the term “civil service”. Recently, CEUPACS’ Datuk Azih Muda had tried to clear the air but failed to address the correct definition of our ‘civil service’. He said that the actual number of Malaysia’s civil service is around 500,000 and not 1.6 million as widely reported. But unlike in the UK and other countries, he should have taken note that we consider all public servants as civil servants. So, IT IS wrong to say that our civil servants are numbered at only 500,000!
In the UK, the definition of a civil servant is only those “employed by the Crown”, excluding those hired by Parliament, executive agencies and non-ministerial government departments. They do not consider teachers (and all school support staffs), those hired in local authorities (like DBKL enforcement officers and staffs) as well as those serving in the health sector (like doctors and nurses) as civil servants.
So, to be fair, we should be comparing the public services of Malaysia and the UK, not the “number of civil servants” as done by most in the past. We currently have 1.6 million people serving in our government according to the latest figure. The UK on the other hand, as of March 2016, has 5.354 million public servants, which official figure is shown here. Again, take note that the UK’s “public servants” here include teachers and doctors and nurses and others which is similar to how we define our “civil service”. And yes, these sectors in the UK are also maintained by their taxpayers’ account.
To say that there is one civil servant for every 19.37 people in Malaysia is correct as we include all of those serving in the public sector. But to compare this ratio with the UK’s 1 to 118 “civil servant” per population is unfair. Again, it is like comparing all fruits to only apples. UK’s correct public servants (5.354 million in total) to its population (of 65.6 million as of 2016) ratio should stand at one to 12.15 people. The same definition and method should be used if we were to compare Malaysia with Japan or Australia for that matter.
In fact, PEMANDU’s Idris Jala tried to explain the issue here years ago, but sadly the matter was still being played by those against the government. To those politicizing this issue, please point your guns elsewhere, i.e. the quality of the public service, NOT towards the number of the innocent people currently employed under the various government scheme