With the passing of the CNY, the first month of 2012 bids us adieu. In the few days left let's reflect on some of the highlights of the month if they could mean anything at all for what's coming in the months ahead. Remember we're just months away from 12.12.12, a very auspicious date according to many.
Aside from the CNY festivities the month has been dominated by public acclaimation and appreciation of the RM500 government handout to families earning less than RM3000 a month. Payment it seems started from 15th January issued to the heads of Chinese families which qualified for the handout, in view of the approaching festival. Many happy and grateful faces were shown in the papers and TV. Previous to that we saw the jubilant faces of young schoolchildren receiving a RM100 gift from Uncle Najib. What we didn't see on the papers and TV as much was the faces of students in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning receiving a RM200 gift vouchers to buy books and other requirements for their studies.
Previous to that there were announcement on the launching of several Funds involving hundreds of million for specific purposes like helping the small scale business entrepreneurs, retirees from the Armed Forces, Teachers, Single Parents, etc. I really lost track of the Funds established but I don't remember any specific Funds allocated to the orphanages and drug habilitation centers in this country. i hope that it's only an oversight on my psrt.
But the biggest announcement was about the New Remuneration Scheme for the Civil Service ( SPBPA). The public civil servants in this country numbering more than a million, had been clamoring for a salary revision for years and now it's coming in a big way. While everyone, it is understood, will get a hefty rise in pay, the remuneration of officers in the Primier Service of the goverment will, it seems, get a pay package comparable to the executives in the private sector. That could mean an unprecedented rise by 300% or more. The retired senior civil servants of the past who are still living, I am sure, will just lick their fingers in awe. Yes, they will also be rewarded with a 2% increse in their pension while inflation has crept up to 4% or more in real term.
Though the Public Services Department is the prime author of all salary revisios, Cuepacs is undeniably the main force behind any revision and request for bonus. The latter has now raused a number of issues against JPA's recommendation and the Prime Minister has given the two authorities three months to revise the JPA's deal. Whatever the basis of the salary revision is, Malaysia has never undertaken a proper job evaluation exercise for all the civil service jobs. As far as I know only pay comparison between jobs with similar designation or categorization in the public and private sectors had been done. No professional analysis of job content has ever been undertaken on a comparative basis.
On the whole January had been a busy month. On the economic and political front, nothing seems to be very clear, like the weather conditions in the country. Economic growth seems to be satisfactory but insufficient according to some people, to bring us to the objective of becoming a high income nation in the next eight years, unless some new impetus for growth is found. While pump priming by the government is necessary for the private sector to grow, the failures of some government related enerprises is most worrisome especially when they absorb too much of government fund. It amounts to the public subsidizing the enterprises rather than the enterprises helping the public.
On the political scene UMNO and its associates in Barisan, still seem to have difficulties in carrying through its trasformation program. The smell of corruption had invaded too much into the chambers of authority that the MACC with its some 400 or more staff cannot undertake a thorough cleansing program. Meanwhile the opposition had raised a number of integrity questions which have not been satisfactorily answered. Within its own ranks the opposition ( Keadilan, DAP and PAS ) has generated a lot of conflict and tension that can reduce its acceptibility as an alternative to Barisan. So, where does that leave us?
Truly, much depends now on the decision of the public in the nexf general election. The date is yet unknown but more and more the public seems to be growing stronger and more critical in its judgement of what is happening today, especially in regard to the misdemeanors of its political leaders.