I MUST thank those who came out in support of the idea I wrote about in my recent column, for a RM10 monthly contribution for at least three months from the 1.6 million civil servants, to bring relief to Malaysians whose livelihoods have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most notably, the backing from former director-general of Public Service Department Tan Sri Ismail Adam, who described the proposal as “easily implementable”.
He texted me that the RM10 can be deducted from the non-pensionable allowance every civil servant receives in one form or another.
“They receive numerous non-pensionable allowances, rather than deducting from their salary which has implications on pension calculation,” he said.
Ismail said he was surprised that none of the leaders in the civil service had thought of implementing such an idea even a year after the country had been battered by the pandemic.
At a glance, the RM10 Fund as I call it, looks insignificant but just multiply it by 1.6 million civil servants for three months, and a whopping RM48 million can be raised. And seamlessly, without hurting the pockets of even the lowest paid government employees at that.
Prof Emeritus Dr Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak said this would paint a great picture of public servants who are seen as the most stable group in the community, with their incomes being guaranteed by the government.
He even suggested that this effort should be continued for as long as the pandemic lasts despite the government having created a special Covid-19 fund.
In other words, the more the better of course, as the number of Malaysians who are out of jobs is rising daily with the pandemic showing no signs of letting up until the long process of public vaccination against the virus is over.
This is not to mention the tens of thousands who are on forced unpaid leave and big pay cuts.
Another word of support came from the president of Malaysian Association of Fraud Examiners Datuk Seri Akhbar Satar, who is also a prominent anti-corruption activist.
He says it is timely for the massive workforce in the civil service to display its solidarity with those who have lost their incomes during these difficult times, and to assist financially-troubled fellow Malaysians.
There have been counter-proposals by those who reacted to this RM10 Fund idea that it could similarly involve other groups like ministers or elected representatives such as members of Parliament and state legislative assemblies.
But to me the whole point of the RM10 Fund is missed by such counter-proposals.
Why? Let’s look at the sheer numbers of the civil service at 1.6 million and perhaps even more now. At a mere contribution of just over 30 sen a day, some RM16 million is collectible monthly.
With contributions for just three months, the amount to be raised can indeed go a long, long way towards putting food on the table for the needy as well as a roof over the head for the homeless and those who can’t afford to pay rent for their homes due to having no income.
I know the Welfare Department offices throughout the nation are doing their usual work reaching out to aid-seekers, but if we have this extra fund the department can put thousands more on the list of beneficiaries.
So far Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohammad Zuki Ali has not responded to the proposal although I know that some reporters have tried to get his reaction.
Neither did he respond to that particular column that I wrote two weeks ago, that I texted to him.
I’m told that the idea requires further deliberations among stakeholders before a decision can be made.
Having spent a few decades in government service myself, I’m well aware of the layers of bureaucracy that any proposal has to go through before anything sees the light of day.
What seems like something very doable or, as Tan Sri Ismail Adam says, “very implementable” normally lands indefinitely in the KIV tray or file.
I can only hope that this RM10 Fund idea won’t meet the same fate.
There’s a Malay proverb which best describes the situation – Hendak seribu daya, jika tak hendak seribu dalih. Literally it means if we want to do something, we can by 1,000 means or we’ll find 1,000 excuses for not doing it.
I also hope that Cuepacs, the umbrella body of unions in the civil service, will strongly support the RM10 Fund so that it can get off the ground as soon as possible.
So let’s do it.