Cabinet ministers cannot sack or suspend any civil servant who are categorised as “permanent Government officers.”
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said he has not seen any record of a minister taking such actions against these officers, who are under the jurisdiction of the Public Services Department.
"There is no law in the administrative regulations and in the Constitution providing for ministers to sack or suspend any permanent civil servant,” he said, adding that this includes the deputy prime minister.
This is probably one of the most disturbing statements which came from the administration. I have a few questions for the DPM. First, who is the PSD answerable to? What is the role of the administration if it does not have any direct control over the ministry and PSD? What is the role of the Education Ministry if it does not have any jurisdiction over the conduct of teachers and administrative staff?
Muhyiddin statement may derail any hope of reforming the civil service which is long seen as ineffective, cumbersome, flabby and bureaucratic. What is the hope of making the ETP, NEM and a host of other plans a success if the civil service is not performing up to the desired level?
Worse, the DPM is suggesting that public institutions such as the police are acting without any instruction or supervision. Did the police act alone to detain a cartoonist or peaceful ISA demonstrators?
It is dangerous to suggest that there is no provision or administrative regulations to suspend or sack errant civil servants.