A case of lopsided representation


State civil service a far cry from diverse ethnicity that Sarawak is known for, say community leaders

C_PC0013603KUCHING: It is known that Sarawak is home to various ethnic groups but when it comes to the state civil service, it does not reflect the same diversity.

Currently, the state’s 2.6 million population comprises mainly the Dayaks – the Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus – followed by the Chinese, the Malays and the Melanaus, while the rest consists of smaller ethnic groups that include the Indians and Eurasians.

However in last year’s statistics for the state civil service, the breakdown was far different from the actual racial composition.

In this respect, the Dayak and Chinese communities are seeking the assistance from Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem in rectifying such imbalance.

According to Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) president Dr Dusit Jaul, statistics have indicated that the professional and management group in the state civil service appears to be biased toward a particular ethnic group.

“The Dayaks’ under-representation in the management and professional group is very obvious. This is something that we in SDGA, in particular, and the whole Dayak community in general, strongly urge the chief minister to look into.

“When our chief minister proclaims that he is a chief minister for all, we trust his words. The next five years would be for our chief minister to honestly correct this imbalance – the failure of which could lead to political liability for the ruling party going into the 12th state election,” Dusit told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He also pointed out that today’s youths were more discerning than before, in that they surely would want an explanation on the imbalance in the state civil service.

“We cannot hide facts from them, more so when it involves unfairness. Thus, true to his promise to be a leader for all, we strongly advocate for our chief minister to immediately take the necessary step to rectify this imbalance.

“We in SDGA believe that there is more than enough number of Dayaks to be promoted to higher posts in the state civil service. We also believe that Dayak officers are as equally capable as their counterparts from other ethnic groups.

“So seriously, do consider the Dayaks for management post as doing so would shield the state government from accusation of discrimination and marginalisation. The other point is that by policy and act of inclusivity, the state government would harness the best talents to administer the state – something which the Singapore government has successfully done,” explained Dusit.

C_PC0013604The Chinese community also urged Adenan to intervene and tackle the matter seriously.

Dongzong president Temenggong Dato Vincent Lau said the community knew that this had been happening because some of those who were in the recruitment process had been irresponsible.

“This is happening not because the Dayak or the Chinese applicants are not qualified or incapable enough, but because of those responsible for recruitment – they have been making decisions without taking into consideration the ratio regarding racial composition in Sarawak.

“The selection of civil servants should be fairly distributed among those from different races. Something needed to be done to address the situation. We have been complaining and hoping that more Chinese could be recruited.  After all, in different departments, you need some Chinese to communicate properly with Chinese customers,” said Lau, urging the relevant authorities in the state that they must address the issue.

“It must be done to ensure that all races are given the same opportunity and also to maintain the balance of different races within the civil service. This is important to ensure harmony of races.”

For Sarawak Federation of Foochow Associations president Dato Dr Ngu Piew Seng, the number of Dayaks and Chinese in the civil service remained minimal, despite both communities constituting about 70 per cent of the total population.

“I hope the chief minister would do something to rectify the situation.

“I am from the Chinese community and I know that it is not true that the Chinese have been blamed for not being interested to work in the civil service. And like the Dayaks, the Chinese are always being bypassed in terms of promotion. This has to be looked into as well,” he stressed.

Ngu’s sentiment was shared by Board of Management of Kuching Chung Hua Middle School No 1, 3 and 4 chairman Richard Wee, who said that in general principle, it would be fair to reflect the composition of the state civil service in accordance with the actual racial composition in the population.

“However, there are many other factors to be considered. Primarily, the civil service needs to have a transparent system based on meritocracy for future promotions for all; rather than basing it on the previous unwritten practice of race. This is to attract the younger generation of all races to consider civil service as their chosen career path.

“The practice in the past had deterred many from joining the civil service; hence the imbalance seen in the current situation. Hopefully, there could be a change in the state government’s policy that would encourage new graduates to view the civil service differently,” said Wee.

Meanwhile, PRS Youth deputy chief Councillor Sempurai Petrus Ngelai said if the statistics released on May 31 last year were to made as a yardstick for the Group A civil servants’ proportion against the state’s racial composition, then it clearly did not reflect the government’s policy of inclusive and fairness in the civil service.

“This trend, if it were to still persist, would not be healthy for the state government as it would give the impression that other racial groups are being inadequately represented in the civil service, especially among the officers in Group A. Even with the combination of the two racial groups ((Dayaks and Chinese), they are still far less than the other group. What we worry is that people tend to speculate and perceive that state civil service is dominated by a certain racial group, which is bad for state government’s image,” he said.

Sempurai hoped that the statistics would be improved going forward, given that Adenan received overwhelming support from all the races in the recent state election.

“It is clear that the inclusivity for all races in the vision of state’s development and the rakyat (people)-oriented policy made him (Adenan) win the state election with flying colours.

“PRS Youth hopes that the Public Service Commission (PSC) and state government would improve and give equal chances to incoming junior officer of all races in the state civil service,” he said.