Friday, May 25, 2007

Of Tony Pua, Khairy & the civil service

I have been following the going-ons between Khairy Jamaluddin and Tony Pua over the latter's remarks alleging that the civil service has been “a dumping ground for the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates.”

Khairy said Pua’s comments, which implied that civil servants were the employees of last choice and unable to seek gainful employment elsewhere, were totally unacceptable and without basis.

I, for one, would personally say that both Khairy and Tony stand to be corrected in this issue. For the graduate of Oxford's Keble College, of which Tony is I would question where he had obtained the basis of such a claim, while for that academic offspring of Oxford's St Hughes I would say that an over-reaction should not have been in order as earlier deemed.

From observations and interactions on the ground with the group at the bone of contention, I have long found that most of them opted for careers in the civil service on the long-held assumption (myth) that the government is the best employer -- offering job security and prestige. Assuming that a majority of the graduates hailed from the Malay heartland and kampungs, it would come as no surprise if this belief was deeply entrenched in their minds.

Besides working the land or, in some cases, were themselves civil servants, the parents of these graduates were mostly ensconced within the confines of a civil service mindset. Even if their mainstay is to toil the land or harvest the seas, they cannot avoid facing up to the kerani, penghulu or Pegawai Daerah in the course of their lives. Being made to wait patiently along the corridors of powers that was the Pejabat Daerah & Tanah, they have long succumbed to this notion.

They saw the regimented lifestyle of the pegawai kerajaan as the ideal role model for their beloved sons and daughters.

And, as for the graduates themselves, the stint at the universities or colleges have caused them to absorb diverse thinking – from the “fundamentalist” to the right of the right wing. Yes, they may even have been rebellious in their quiet ways at campus but, still, deep within their mindset, the ideals of bagging a career with the civil service lurks.

Coming from an often-struggling rural family, I must say that these graduates are actually under the notion that they are acting sensibly. They look at their family’s station in life and would wish to ensure a certain continuum of security with the gaji bulan, kerja tetap and pencen that the civil service offers. They just do not wish to risk the future of their dependents otherwise.

Yes, I would agree that many might have difficulties in landing a job with top-notch private companies due to several factors that may range from an opposite mindset entrenched in the persons of the companies concerned or a culture that starkly differs from their much-polarised life at campus.

At the end of the day, what they aspire and wish for is to be with the civil service – not because of lack of ability to do otherwise or being the beneficiary of what Tony Pua alleged as the government’s aim to appease the politically sensitive constituency of unemployed Malay graduates, but to avoid taking unnecessary chances.

Henceforth, from such observations I would say both Khairy and Tony should wise up to the facts, too. Perhaps, they may want to do more homework before imparting their opinions?