Corruption was so widespread in the previous administration that the government may be crippled if all those suspected of bribery in the civil service were terminated.
Speaking at a press conference at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said one of the biggest difference in battling corruption between his two tenures as Prime Minister is the rampant corruption presently seen in the civil service.
“There was not so much corruption previously,” Dr Mahathir said. “We cannot terminate everyone we suspect because otherwise, we will have no government machinery to operate [with]”.
He said that when he was prime minister the first time around, the government machinery was so much cleaner.
“Currently, we find that because Datuk Seri Najib [Razak] promoted corruption – he said “cash is king” – the government machinery is also implicated and we have to choose and filter before we take [any further administrative] action,” he said.
One of the earliest actions taken by the Pakatan Harapan government after GE14 was to reform government agencies to eliminate corruption and to cut down operational costs, amid high national debt.
This includes termination and restructuring of agencies like the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), downsizing of workforce such as in the Prime Minister’s Office and particularly, not extending the contracts of employees deemed as “political appointees”.
Dr Mahathir also said it is not a problem if the salary level of civil servants were slightly lower than their private sector counterparts.
“It is not too low,” he said.
“Did you know that some of those working with GLCs get paid as much as RM7 million per year?
“The government provides a house; pays for the electricity, water; gives you transport; provides you with credit allowance – everything was paid for,” he added.