The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has brushed off the call by a former top public officer to downsize the number of civil servants in the country. (Pix by ZULFADHLI ZULKIFLI)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has brushed off the call by a former top public officer to downsize the number of civil servants in the country.

Its president Datuk Azih Muda said this was because the actual number of civil servants in the country was actually around 500,000 and not 1.6 million as widely reported in the media.

He was commenting on a suggestion made by former Finance Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Kassim at a forum on Monday that the government should consider initiating headcount cuts in the civil service to reduce spending.

The immediate past president of the Malaysian Economic Association (MEA) also said that it was more kind to initiate retrenchment with proper compensation and incentives now rather than let the situation worsen.

Azih, who disagreed with the idea, pointed out that based on the Federal Constitution, Malaysia’s civil service included the armed forces, police, education and health personnel whereas these four sectors were not included in other developed countries.

“If analysed thoroughly, there are only 500,000 civil servants in the workforce, not including the four sectors which I mentioned before. Thus, it is unfair to say that our civil service sector is bloated,” he said after attending a special congress here today.

He said Cuepacs members were disappointed that the suggestion was made by a former civil servant who is now retired from the service.

“We have never asked the government to reduce or end the pension to retirees because we appreciate their service.

“They should do the same and not suggest something that can add burden to the people," he said.

He called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak not to heed to the suggestion because doing so would only anger those in the civil service.

Earlier this month, Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani reportedly said Malaysia has the highest number of civil servant in the world with one civil servant to every 19.37 people. Malaysia has 31 million population.

Johari also noted that last year, the public servants' pay totalled RM74 billion and the pension of civil servants amounted to RM19 billion. Collectively, these payment formed the biggest portion of government’s operating expenditure.

The Cabinet minister, however, stressed that the government had no plan to reduce the number of civil servants despite the burgeoning remuneration and pensions.

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