— The Malaysian Insider
Jul 01, 2012
JULY 1 — Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah is paying the price for the government’s New Remuneration Scheme that caused an uproar earlier this year. The ambitious scheme to reward the 1.4 million-strong civil service crumbled when unions pointed out that they were getting pittance while some 5,000 senior officers were getting stratospheric pay rises.
Putrajaya was forced to scrap the scheme, and in the process, also the move to get top people from the private sector to join the civil service at the top levels. After all, the new pay for the senior officials was benchmarked at the wages given for top white-collar professionals and managers.
While the Cabinet had approved the scheme and even announced it in Budget 2012 last year, they didn’t go through the proposals line by line. The resulting kerfuffle, to put it mildly, was squarely blamed at three men and one of them was Abu Bakar who is the Public Services Department (PSD) director-general.
It is understood the other two were former Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, and Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah.
Yet, Abu Bakar is the biggest loser. He was tipped to replace Mohd Sidek but the new pay scheme’s failure cost him that job. And he refused to go away quietly, sources said, insisting that if he was to be blamed for the salary fiasco, then so to must Sidek as it takes two to tango. And Wan Abdul Aziz for agreeing to the scheme.
Instead, Sidek is now Petronas chairman and Wan Abdul Aziz has had a three months extension to his contract.
But the blames goes beyond this trio.
The salary fiasco is a reflection of the mediocrity in government, for not ensuring that all parties are consulted and everyone is happy before the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister makes the grand announcements to keep everyone happy.
The Cabinet members were only interested in the headline numbers during the presentation, and failed to ask questions about the rest of the civil service. They thought everyone would be happy but only when Cuepacs jumped did the Najib administration realise that something was amiss and they had a hot potato in their hands.
It took them a few months to resolve the problem, and everyone to be apparently happy. Yet, senior officials who had at least a RM5,000 pay rise and pensioners who received a fair amount of money saw it all being taken back.
And Abu Bakar finally losing his job, three years before he is due to retire at the new pensionable age of 60. But should he be the only one loser in this shambolic turn of events?
Of course, it easy to fire a civil servant for such mistakes.
However, in the interests of justice and fair play, all those who had a hand in turning the New Remuneration Scheme into a disaster for the government and the civil service should also be equally punished — be they civil servants or politicians. After all, this is 1 Malaysia. People First. Performance now.