How corrupt is Malaysia’s civil service? Chief secretary to the govt gives a perspective

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Chief Secretary to the federal government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali disagrees with the popular view that corruption is rife in the Malaysian civil service and has provided some numbers to back it up.

Speaking to Utusan Malaysia in an interview published today, the government’s top bureaucrat said the number of civil servants convicted in corruption cases since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has been declining.

In 2020, there were only 74 convictions out of 1.48 million civil servants in corruption cases, which dipped to 70 the following year, and plunged to 21 in 2022.

“This shows that civil servants still practise a work culture with integrity to ensure good and transparent governance in the public service.

“However, the government takes a serious view of this small group that can damage the image of the public service and will not tolerate misconduct involving integrity,” he told the newspaper.

Mohd Zuki said the government has taken disciplinary action against 8,556 underperforming civil servants in 2022 to prove its commitment to integrity.

He said the biggest offence was work absenteeism involving 21.5 per cent or 1,839 civil servants, followed by 3.19 per cent or 273 civil servants who were charged with drug abuse.

He said those who were taken to court for power abuse and corruption made up only 1.64 per cent or 140 civil servants in 2022.

He added that a total of 493 government officials were sacked in 2022 compared to 239 in 2021 and 165 in 2020, making the total number of civil servants terminated in those three years just 897.

He also said that 3,238 public officers obtained a performance rating below 60 per cent, which was categorised as low performing officers, when separation policy was implemented back in 2015.

“However, this small group does not actually reflect the overall performance of civil servants, who on average show a high commitment to each task. But, I admit civil servants can improve their services to a better level.

“The issue of low-performing officers will always remain the government’s priority in order to only allow officers who are truly serious about providing the best service to remain in the service,” he was quoted as saying.

Mohd Zuki also highlighted the establishment of the Special Cabinet Committee on National Governance, chaired by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and managed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, to deal with weaknesses in the civil service that lead to fund leakages, wastage, abuse of power, malpractices and corruption.

He said each ministry, department and agency now has an integrity unit to handle complaints and internal investigations relating to integrity issues.

“One of the important criteria for the appointment of a person into the public service is a candidate who is clean, free of criminal and drug records. When reporting, they must attend the Mind Transformation Programme.

“One of the applied modules is to provide exposure and adaptation of officers’ minds regarding the basic rules of public service as well as the formation of identity based on a first-class work culture,” he was quoted as saying.