From personal experience

— Greener Pastures
The Malaysian Insider
Jan 04, 2013

JAN 4 — I write today to present a scenario from personal experience which relates to the national brain-drain and low enrolment in the civil service.

I have served in the civil service for three years now, and the reasons why I joined the civil service was because of my mother, who herself served as a teacher for 30 years and convinced me that the civil service was not what most people thought it to be. In fact, it gave her a good career, a good life, a good income and good benefits right up till now in her retirement. The other reason was I wanted a stable job that would allow me a good work-life balance and time for my new family.

So, after graduating in the Dean’s list from a local university and working in the private sector for a while, I applied and subsequently was called to service. Before I started in the civil service, one year after graduation, I took a certification examination which allows me to practise in many foreign countries. But I chose to stay in Malaysia because Malaysia is home.

I am perhaps the unlikeliest candidate to choose the civil service. The first question most people ask is “Why did you join the civil service?”, and then it is usually followed by “When are you leaving (the civil service)?”. There were two options for me to join the civil service, my first choice was to join the academia. When I embarked on the application process, they told me that they weren’t keen on accepting me because they were afraid that I would leave the University after I got my post-graduate qualifications. Facing such negativity, I gave up on that option and chose to join the civil service proper.

Even with my excellent results, overseas certification and private sector experience, I started off with the basic graduate’s pay grade, which was very low, considering that with my overseas certification, I could get a job in other countries which would pay between RM10,000 — RM40,000 a month. As such, I was only getting somewhere around RM35,000 per annum. The current salary I get, is just enough to maintain a comfortable middle income lifestyle if I don’t purchase a car or house. But I thought that if I wanted to bring change to the industry, I had to be the change. Money isn’t everything, so I stayed. (Remuneration, check; idealism, check.)

I don’t begrudge my three years of service, and I believe I had performed well in my job especially in the implementation of the ETP (Economic Transformation Programs) which I believed would benefit the country. I am pulling well above my weight and pay grade in my current responsibilities. My performance was recognised when they awarded me the Excellent Service Award for my second year of service. (Job satisfaction, check.)

Then, two days after Christmas 2012, they dropped a bombshell. I was being transferred, arbitrarily, to the southern-most state away from my family, especially my infant child who is still nursing. Mind you, this is not a promotion; in fact, it would involve a reduction in take-home pay and increased expenses as I would have to travel weekly to be with my family while at the same time, maintain living in two separate locations. In addition, the notice period for the transfer was a mere three weeks with all the holidays and clearing of annual leave days, barely enough time to properly hand over all the important programmes under the ETP that I have been working on. Neither does this transfer contribute to my career development. And all this was done without giving any reason or consultation in advance. This is not only happening to me, but many of my colleagues.

I question the rationale behind this as it affects the performance and continuity of government programmes, violates employee/civil servant welfare and most importantly lacks talent management.

So, can anyone explain how I am supposed to stay on while it is obvious, to me at least, that there are greener pastures in the private sector and even overseas? Good intentions towards the service of the country do not put food on the table nor is it a good enough reason for me to sacrifice my family life.

I hope that the policymakers in Talent Corp, Commission of Public Service (SPA) and Department of Public Service (JPA) will be able to identify the flaws in the current system and rectify them so that people like me will be motivated to remain and contribute to the betterment of the country.

  1. #1 by cseng on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 3:48 pm

    You must stay bro.. you mother said so.

    The country need your service, is not that most important for you. The country does not reward you, no food, no family, never mind la bro…, you must have sense of appreciation!, you got a country, a mother, a job, a family, an education, you owed the country your life. In fact you must ensure BN continue as gov. otherwise you might lose your only job.

    You stay! until you have grown up and equip with courage to said enuf is enuf…bro.

    • #2 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:22 pm

      You ARE the government. It is not just the politicians who make up the government. It includes all the gomen servants whether under Barisan Nasional or under Pakatan Rakyat. As long as you are in the service, you are the gomen. Unless one fine day, you decide to choose the other path of career life.

  2. #3 by chengho on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 3:49 pm

    Come to NY if you can find the job

    • #4 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:23 pm

      The priority should be for their own citizens first.

  3. #5 by cintanegara on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 4:23 pm

    The late Kanang Langkau, is a true Malaysian, warrior and patriot….never demand a reward or recognition…….The country mourns his loss…So what’s the moral of this story… think deeply…

    • #6 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:24 pm

      agi idup, agi ngelabang. as long as you live, you will fight on. Therefore the moral is you might be able to make a change if you stay on but it will mean you have to fight, fight, fight all the way. And it does not mean you will win.

  4. #7 by gofortruth on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 4:28 pm

    Classic legacy left by Mahathir that one can be easily transferred without consultation if one doesn’t toe the “LINE”.That’s how Mahathir ‘”fixed” & ran his country for 22 years.


    • #8 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:26 pm

      It is not stupid. It is telling that one is powerful enough to do whatever he she wishes. Power to lift you up. Power to put you down. No need for reasons.

  5. #9 by omeqiu on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 5:32 pm

    Did you (unintentionally) ruffled some feathers or did not kowtow to some VIP in your work?
    “天人不为己,天诛地灭”. In spite of your intelligence, you never learn the facts of life.

    • #10 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:28 pm

      There is the good intelligence. There is the evil intelligence.

  6. #11 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 9:46 pm

    Many other Malaysians I know have stayed in the service to serve God and country.

    But when you have such a bunch of nincompoops running the country, even GOD would migrate!

    • #12 by cemerlang on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 10:35 pm

      It is not nincompoops. It is a tradition. It is copy paste from what is practised before. Because nobody dares to change. They talk about change. But the change that they practise makes things go from bad to worse. If you transform or change and make things go bad to worse, it is better you don’t change. The past is the present. The present is your future.

  7. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 11:29 pm

    I met a bloke in the civil service, he,being a non-Malay, so I asked the reason for joining. He said, he was on scholarship. Then he said that he was working in the little dot after graduation because there was no vacancy then. Some how, they called and being naive, he said that he was in the little dot! Well, you better be back before we take you to court! So he was given a job much similar to this writer with a heart for the nation. I told him, you should have had said, “I am still unemployed!’ I would certainly say, working overseas, especially just after graduation, is not easy. Not every can cope with it; not only just with the job competition but your life after work when you tend to be alone at the initial stage. But again, once you can cope with both competition and the social aspects of life; it certainly pays more in the overseas market! Just in the Little Dot, I have known many at 30, making around s$200 K excluding bonuses and with the world at their feet. Here Cintanegara will keep on harping that they have to stay in ‘Cages’ but from where they can literally fly around the world without much thinking! That is the difference! recently I met a group of students in Munich and a girl asked if I am one of them? No, I am your neighbour! ‘ What you all doing here? [some 30 of them] “Oh! we are holidaying here during the year-end break!’ Well we have to convert over rm$4 per euro and they just pat s$1.60. So Chengho, do you understand the impact of poor and corrupted Gomen just over a generation, we are down over 300% in exchange rate. [ in the early 80s, s$1 = dm1=rm$0.80] to day 1dm being the backbone of euro= s$1.60=rm$4.05. That was the great job performed by your super-ego-hero and his band of Ali-babas within a generation!

  8. #14 by chengho on Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 3:37 am

    Come and live in Euro zone now , you have no future especially if you live within pigs country . China will bail them out. UK wanna move out from Euro. Thanks ur lucky star u live in Malaysia .

  9. #15 by boh-liao on Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Another sad account fr a rakyat who failed 2 understand d operation of UmnoB/BN gomen
    Dis poor guy, like many others, naively thought: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”, so mucho gung ho sacrificing self 2 serve nation
    But they don’t realise UmnoB/BN kaki meanwhile practise “Ask what our country can do for us – ask what we can korek/sapu from our country” – tons of $$$ continue 2 flow OUT of M’sia
    Poor guy, wake up lah n C who R larfing all d way 2 d bank, while U r lamenting being kicked around fr 1 place 2 another n having 2 spend more 2 visit your dear wife n baby
    Still want 2 vote 4 UmnoB/BN?

  10. #16 by monsterball on Monday, 7 January 2013 - 6:10 pm

    And is our lovely country… made for Umno b to govern Malaysians forever….chengho???

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