Of accountability in the civil service and putting people first
BRIGHT FUTURE: Civil servants can now look ahead with new leadership in civil service
IT was a lopsided scheme that fortunately didn't see the light of day after all.
But it did cause a lot of grief to the country's 1.4 million-strong civil service until Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak intervened to put a stop to it.
The stillborn Skim Baru Perkhidmatan Awam (SPBA) for the public service was, to say the least, awful.
The salary scheme was never intended the help the lower-rung civil servants tide over the rising cost of living.
The quantum of the pay hike for the majority of the workers was, by all accounts, pittance. It was a slap on their face.
Rather, the scheme was designed by the top echelon to reward themselves with huge pay rises.
The joke then was that you don't ask the top-ranking officers to decide on their own remuneration package.
Little wonder then that when the scheme was eventually made public, the main trade union, Cuepacs, cried foul.
It wasn't a just solution for the majority.
It was instead designed to reward those in high office at the expense of the low-income group.
The flak over the SBPA also posed a huge political headache for the Barisan Nasional government ahead of the general election.
The government could not afford to unsettle the civil servants.
Najib in March took a bold step to scrap the SBPA, much to the relief of the civil servants.
In its place, he introduced a much improved Sistem Saraan Malaysia (SSM) salary scheme.
It was more equitable across the board and not as despairing as the SBPA proposed by the Public Service Department (PSD).
Subsequently, there had been calls for the chief secretary to the government, who is the head of the civil service, and director-general of the PSD, to take the responsibility for the botched-up SBPA plan. Commentators went on to say that the plan had left a bitter taste, gave rise to much hostility and negativity against the government.
In fact, it was a direct defiance of Najib's 1Malaysia philosophy, under which the rakyat comes first.
Cuepacs and the civil servants in general can now look ahead with the new leadership in the civil service, following the departure of Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan and PSD chief Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah.
The government is also undertaking a complete overhaul of the civil service, with the setting up of a new panel headed by former PSD director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam.
Those in the public service can now look forward to a better and a more rewarding career as the country marches towards meeting the Vision 2020.
We can now put the dark episode behind us.