Civil service in Malaysia

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The civil service in Malaysia is pivotal around Article 132 of the Constitution of Malaysia which stipulates that the public service shall consists of the Federal and State General Public Service, the Joint Public Services, the Education Service, the Judiciary and the Legal Service and the Armed Forces.

For all intents and purpose, Statutory Bodies and the Local Authorities are also considered as parts of the Public Service. This is because both these autonomous bodies resemble the Public Service in many respects since they adopt the procedures of the Public Service pertaining to appointments, terms and conditions of service and the remuneration system. Besides that, their officers and staff also receive pension and other retirement benefits similar to the employees in the Public Service.

However, with the implementation of the separation concept under the New Remuneration System which became effective on 1 January 1993, several public sector agencies were given the freedom to institute their own policies and procedures. These agencies, whose activities were akin to that of businesses and were in good financial stead, were allowed to determine their own policies and procedures pertaining to appointments, terms and conditions of service.


The current civil service was created in the 1950s but trace its lineage to the 1700s:[1]

After Malaysia's independence in 1957, the current service was created.

Public agencies

Public agencies are agencies in the Public Service at the Federal, State and the Local Government levels. Federal agencies consist of Ministries, Federal Departments and Federal Statutory Bodies. Each ministry is headed by a Minister and assisted by deputy minister(s) and the chief executive officer that is known as the Secretary General. The Prime Minister's Department is also a ministry. Typically there will be a number of departments and possibly one or more statutory bodies as well under a ministry. Head of departments are given the title Director General.

Head of statutory bodies are called chairman while the chief executive officer who is a civil servant is called the General Manager. There are statutory bodies headed by the executive chairman who also functions as the General Manager as is the case in the Employees Provident Fund.

State Agencies consist of state departments, state statutory bodies and local governments (City, Municipal and District Councils).

The term Public Service does not include special institutions like the Judiciary, Public Service Commissions, the Election Commission and like institutions whose members are appointed by the King. Nevertheless, the organisations providing support or secretarial services to these institutions are public agencies whose officers and staff are from the Public Service. The Public Service also excludes off-budget agencies which are formed under the Companies Act or the Society Act and do not follow policies and procedures of personnel management in the public sector.

Central agencies

Central Agency in Malaysia is important, as it assists the government in formulating policies, co-ordinating, controlling and monitoring the various development programs and projects. Among the main responsibilities (objectives) of the Central Agency are:[2]

As such, the co-ordination and control by the Central Agency, tend to encompass a few crucial aspects or functions:[2]

Central Agencies are also Federal agencies responsible for formulating the national financial and economic policies, the public sector human resource policies, and the monitoring and supervising the implementation of these policies. The central agencies are:

Civil service and ethnic relations in Malaysia

In 2010 Senator Datuk T. Murugiah, a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, denied in a parliamentary press conference that the government was only focusing on hiring ethnic-Malay civil servants. “People always criticise us for hiring only those from one race to work in the service but it is not true. The percentage of non-Bumiputeras hired by the Public Service Commission has increased in the past few years,” he stated. According to Murugiah 58.2% of the 1,559 Chinese applicants interviewed as of 15 June 2010 have been hired and that the number of Chinese employed in 2010 shows an increase of 9 percent over 2008. 1,833 ethnic Indians were interviewed as of 15 June 2010 and 42.7% of them hired. In 2008 6,106 ethnic Indians were interviewed of which 38.8 percent were hired.“There is no bias there. All races are given opportunity for top management positions. There is no quota system,” added Murugiah.[3]

Criticisms and reforms

Malaysia has the highest Malay ethnic in the civil service, partly also due to the large Malay ethnic group in Malaysia, which consists of about 50.4 percent of the population. However, if the Malays and the other indigenous people (Bumiputera) are taken together, they compose about 67 percent of the population in Malaysia. Consequently, the Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak has been trying to be open on the issue, and henceforth, increase the intake of other races, such as, the Indians, and Chinese into the civil service, with the latest, is the appointment of the Minister of Human Resources, Subramaniam Sathasivam, an Indian.

Najib Tun Razak has been one of the more open leader to welcome the concept of pluralism in his cabinet, and also in promoting the 1Malaysia concept. Henceforth, among other cabinet Ministers are the Health Minister, Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Peter Chin Fah Kui, Minister of Transport, Kong Cho Ha, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Maximus Ongkili, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Bernard Dompok, and others.

However, oppositions of the government claimed that the number of civil servants, of other denominations, are still lacking in numbers, henceforth suggesting the number to be increase in a more fair and open system, one such source, is the WikiLeaks that appeared in Malaysia Today on 6 June had the cable further quoting K. Govindan, who was the former Economic Planning Unit, deputy director-general, opinion that the Malaysian civil service adopts 'a narrow worldview and will oppose, even refuse to implement, reforms, perceived as damaging ethnic Malay interests, even if convinced of the long-run gains for Malaysia'.

Opponents are still unhappy at the administrative reforms in the civil service, and warrant that more change, such as, the inclusion of the Non-Malays and Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak, and even ethnic Orang Asli, should all be given a fair chance in the civil service. Till now says Boo Cheng Hau, "The Orang Asli have been totally excluded."[4]

Appointing authorities

Each of the services have their respective appointing authorities as follows:-

Service/Agency Appointing Authority
Federal Public Service Federal Public Service Commission
Education Service Education Service Commission
Judiciary and Legal Service Judiciary and Legal Service Commission
Police Service Police Service Commission
Armed Forces Armed Forces Council
Public Services in the states of Melaka, Pulau Pinang, Negeri Sembilan & Perlis Federal Public Service Commission
Other state public services Respective State Public Service Commissions
Federal and state statutory bodies Respective management boards
Local authorities Respective management boards

Among civil service agencies in Malaysia are:


  2. 1 2 Hai, Jeong Chun; Nawi, Nor Fadzlina (2007). Principles of public administration : an introduction. Shah Alam, Selangor: Karisma Publications. ISBN 9789831952535.
  3. Chooi, Clara. "Putrajaya Reports Increase in Non-Bumiputeras in Civil Service". The Malaysian Insider.
  4. Boo, Cheng Hau. "Isn't a One-race Civil Service a Form of Apartheid?". The Malaysian Insider.

External links

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