Govt servants free to join politics under certain conditions

Azih (right) speaks to reporters while Zainal looks on.

KUCHING, Jan 22: Civil servants are allowed to be involved in politics with permission from their respective department heads or ministry’s chief secretary and as long as there is no conflict of interest or breaking of rules.

Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Zainal Rahim Seman said, for example, in a government circular back in 2009 or 2010, his department stated that government servants particularly teachers with Grade 41 to 48 were allowed to be involved in politics, as long as they were not part of the administration, and they have approval from their department heads.

“Being in politics means you will be in the political limelight. You are allowed to be involved in politics but with certain conditions and rules.

“You must not be involved in the administration of your department or ministry,” he said during a press conference after speaking at the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service (Cuepacs) talk at the old State Legislative Assembly building in Petra Jaya here earlier today.

Disciplinary action would be taken against any government servant who broke any of the rules, Zainal added.

Meanwhile, Cuepacs national president Datuk Azih Muda said among the rules that government servants delving into politics need to adhere to is they should not be involved in their department’s or ministry’s administration as administrative data could be used as political material.

“As government servants, you are bounded by the Official Secrets Act (OSA),” he said.

Meanwhile, Azih was questioned on Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid’s remark as reported in a Chinese language news outlet last week. The latter had said that disciplinary action would be taken against teachers or any government servants who supported the opposition.

Azih stressed that Mahdzir had been misquoted, hence why Cuepacs never came out with a counter statement against him.

“You need to understand that discipline and politics are two different issues. Disciplinary action would be taken against those who breached the rules.

“But in politics, as long as one does not break any rules, he or she is free to be in politics,” said Azih, adding that Mahdzir would know that. — DayakDaily