Much has been made over the number of officers ministers are entitled to.
The hallowed passage where leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin, Azmin Ali, Amiruddin Shari and the rest cut their teeth, there’s so much promise in the position.
Yet, the intention, in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, was to cut the patronage fat accumulated over the decades.
Government is not solely about rewarding the supporters of leaders, is the message. In realpolitik terms however, it is unavoidable, a sort of cost of doing business. But this new administration wants to curb the enthusiasm, even if it can’t end it.
People support leaders for their ideas and beliefs, with consideration of their own person too. Here lies the danger.
Still we have to be practical and accept the self-interest in the lobbying — or the more appropriately referred to as the long ampu (ass-kissing).
Even if seen as rewards, the appointed have a critical job, therefore the appointed can’t see it as rewards only.
Already, special officers are shocked by the immensity of government, and the expectation for them to perform. Shocked most certainly, since some truly believe political power means to attend events only, and to ensure the organisers observe protocol and prepare a good-enough souvenirs for their minister.
That’s a small part of staff work — and can we end the culture of souvenirs? — for they have more substantial tasks.
To provide value for the minister, and by doing so, assist the minister to provide value to the taxpayers. The position is not the end-game and neither is it for self-aggrandisement.
The tax-payers welfare is the endgame.
Ministers say, that’s great, and they appreciate the help to run the ministry, not the least to liaise with the non-political civil service which is gargantuan, but they have many supporters, and they’d like to reward all the key ones.
Several have pointed out to the previous administration, as justification for more appointments, as they conclude in comparison their demands are modest.
They may be correct in this regard, but there is a practical counterpoint.
It was too many officers, in too many agencies/organisations/boards tied to ministries which brought about the problems to begin with. Caution is necessary.
Thus the change.
If the new approach is to cut down jobs for those “hangarounds”, so the will of the people is met, then the same principle must be applied on the various employees in the service, together with their overlapping agencies/organisations/boards.
As long as there are “hangaround” agencies/organisations/boards, there will always be potential “hangarounds”. And even more insidiously, these organisations continue with little value to the country, as in to the economy.
Worse, they turn into parasites in the system because there’s too many of them in too many meaningless organisations which need funding anyways, and therefore over time exist in order to exist. And spend while they are at it. And if they are spending for no purpose, they might as well spend on themselves. And then a bit more here, and a bit more there, and the whole thing goes to the dogs.
Reducing officers should come hand in hand with reducing other elements inside the larger civil service. Does Mahathir have the stomach for that? Cause it will cost votes, but aid the country in the medium run.