I REFER to “Privatisation not always the answer” (Comment, March 14).
Privatisation of sections of the civil service is desirable to improve service and unavoidable as the country looks to reduce public expenditure.
There is ample scope for trimming overgrown ministerial departments and sections but there is no political desirability.
Among the different privatisation forms, a straightforward one is contracting out selected services. This would involve less of a major overhaul and disruption. It is relatively straightforward and painless to award licences to “fit and proper” private companies undertaking services on behalf of government. The staff implications besides service-protection undertakings would merely involve working under different conditions. They can be positive and have less constraints.
A common complaint from the rakyat when dealing with agencies is: “Belum siap, mesti tunggu lagi (not ready, must wait longer).”
Complaints often come from clients of departments and local authorities that issue licences and permits. The delays and inefficiencies increase cost and are frustrating.
The service providers are often beyond reproach. Unless you can secure the services or favour of someone like a “Datuk” to intervene, you end up not getting a service within a reasonable time.
Whether privatisation of services provided by government is ultimately better than the civil service structure may be debatable.
The civil service is seen by many as a “red-line” and was an electoral positive for the former ruling coalition. It also ensured jobs were protected. There is therefore little appetite for change.