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Malaysia’s Lopsided Civil Service / Not Enough Dayak in the Civil Service?

singh-police1Malaysia’s Lopsided Civil Service.

Is a homogenous civil service a liability? This is a very difficult question and as it requires either a yes or no answer everything depends on which side of the divide the one being questioned is. In Malaysia this situation exists, where according to the blog of a prominent opposition MP, “in the recent parliamentary meeting, MPs were told that as of June 2005, there were 899,250 public servants, of whom 77.04 per cent or 692,736 were Malays. The rest were: 84,295 Chinese (9.37 per cent), 46,054 Indians (5.12 per cent), 69,828 other Bumiputeras (7.77 per cent) and 6,337 of other races (0.70 per cent).” Therefore bumiputras comprise 85% of the civil service leaving a paltry 15% for the non-bumiputras.

When a non-Malay walks into a government office where almost every officer is a Malay it can be quite intimidating especially for those not conversant in Bahasa Malaysia. Why there should be a lack of fluency in Malay even until today especially among the younger age group mystifies me. I’ve always put it down to sheer indifference and a ‘cocooned’ living with their own kind in some housing settlement or new village. Be that as it may, even for those who have been ‘exposed’ to and have interacted with Malays it is still a trying experience that many avoid. This is probably the reason for the last minute rush for the My Kad and for anything else that requires going to or dealing with the ‘Malay’ government office. For the Malay client (we are now ‘clients’ under the Client Charter), it is assumed that he or she will feel right at home. Whether this is generally true or not is anybody’s guess.

putrajayaWhy did the government in the early eighties decide to make the public service so lopsided in terms of racial representation? Was it a conscious political decision with some strategy in mind or for short term political gain? Or perhaps a bit of both. The end result however is a disproportionately ‘Malay’ civil service.

The problem now is when there are complaints of inefficieny, rude behaviour or any shortcoming in the service provided, automatically the Malays as a whole are blamed as inefficient and discourteous. “Oh if only we had an X or Y race officer this problem won’t arise.” . Or, “yeah lah put more Malays and this is what will happen” are the usual comments. That is the price you have to pay for maintaining a monopoly. If curses could come true, most of the civil service officers would either be dead or suffering some serious ailment.

chinese-cheongsamWhile generally paying lip service to the imbalance in the civil service, the government has not made any serious attempt to correct it. What political compulsions or equations has stayed it’s hands I don’t know. It must be remembered that too much of uniformity leads to comfort and too much comfort breeds inefficiency. A little competition and even rivalry is good as it keeps them on their toes. ‘Try putting in about 20% Chinese in any government department and you will see things really moving’, a friend once told me. I tend to believe him because I can’t disprove him.

Having said all the above I must place my own experience in the civil service on record. Perhaps I have been lucky both as a senior government officer (now resigned) and later as a ‘client’. As recently as a few months ago I was pleasantly surprised at the excellent service provided in registering my child’s birth and subsequently in obtaining the ‘My Kid’.

It is a common misconception that the civil service is rotting – it isn’t. There are a lot of dedicated public servants, most of them Malays and most of them ‘unsung’ and villified. I have had the privilege of working with many of these fine officers. If public perception is to change I feel that the racial composition of our public service has to reflect that change. A lopsided civil service does not do anyone any good.

Not Enough Dayak in the Civil Service

Posted by Dr. John Brian Anthony

My Observation

988c932a44e5b2e96eef5655ed12a04b1During the recent Hari Raya Holiday, it became apparent that the number of non-Muslim in the Civil service is very low. How low – I do not have the exact percentage, but a lack of accurate data does not mean that my observation is wrong. My rough guess is about 70% of the Civil Service are made up of Malay and Muslims.

The objective of this article is to highlight to the government of Sarawak that there is something wrong with the composition of the civil service employee in Sarawak. If it is using quota for bumiputera it seems alright but within the bumiputera component the distribution is still not correct. If we use racial breakdown representation percentage, the 70:30 ratio is still not right.

Do the government expect the Dayak to be happy with the composition of the civil service?

What are the effect?

Income Distribution

The income earned from being a Civil Service job is an important source of income. It is also the best way to distribute the country money around to its citizen through salary and wages. Therefor job are created by the government to ensure wealth distribution. But if 70% of the Civil Service employees are Malay/Muslim, how can the wealth of the country be equally distributed?


We all go to school with fellow Malaysian. We know the academic performance of our friends in secondary schools and even at tertiary level. Afetr leaving school or graduation we all applied for jobs, including the S Civil Service. The result of our interviews or employment into the Civil Service would be then show that Malay/Muslim is preferred over other races. The selection of Malay over other races in the civil service has nothing to do with meritocracies. It is purely racist and bias in nature. Naturally, their numbers working in the civil service is high.

I know of a few lowly position Dayak person who works in certain department as “temporary staff” and after about 15 years of working they have not received confirmation letter to their job. A Malay staff recruited under the same category of “temporary” would have been confirmed in ALL cases after only a few years.

Is this not grossly racist in nature?

Promotion in Civil Service

Promotion in the Civil Service is the same, a Malay/Muslim is given preference over other races. Some Dayak even retired as “ACTING Head of Department” when a Malay/Muslim would have easily got the full position in the same situation. Why is our government behaving in such an unfair manner – practicing racial polarization and discrimination in our civil service.

Just look at the Police Force and the Army – the Dayak have very low representation in the senior rank. I do not think it is due to competency and skill – maybe politic plays a big role – who knows?

Service Delivery

These urban Malay/Muslim would be sent to certain rural area government offices – they would not be able to deliver – the NRD in Sabah is just a tip of the Ice berg. In Sarawak it is the same. Just pull the Government Directory for Civil Service then you can see how many Dayak are occupying top post – as Director.

The promoter of this racial discrimination is blind to national integration, natural law of justice, feeling of the non-Malays. Then the political leaders would sum it all up that the non Malay/Muslim are not interested to work in the Civil service.

What is next?

policeThe government should have the “will” to correct this as it can lead to a disunity root cause and even racial tension in the country.

The Malays/Muslim must practice what they preach by saying that they are part of the believed system that subscribe to “fairness” and “respect” to all others outside of their religion.


We Dayak Youth are aware of this practice is feel very hurt by it. To us, this is a negative leadership traits of Malay/Muslim political leaders. We want this corrected and the effect on the integration of Dayak into mainstream Malaysian society is affected.

We see injustice in this racial discrimination in the Civil Service and the longer this not rectify, the wider would be our racial gap in Malaysia.

We pray for justice for our nation and let us not have evil minded racialist leaders in our land.


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