[Letter to the Editor] Race-based quota for civil service useful, but must be discontinued after reaching target

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Letter to the Editor

By Lating Minggang

It is the dawn of the era of unity in diversity in the composition of the civil service through the representation of various ethnic groups when the secretary-general of the ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi (DS Alexander), recently made the call for an ethnic-based quota to be set up for jobs in Sarawak’s civil service.

DS Alexander had earlier said that a fairer recruitment system is needed to support the plan so that the various ethnic groups would get equal opportunity in Sarawak’s public service.

However, in the long run, the quota system in the recruitment process must be discontinued upon reaching its intended goal. The direction of work culture, given Sarawak’s diversified and multi-ethnic population, should be geared towards being competitive and in line with the demands of the job market outside the civil service.

Undoubtedly, this will also reflect diversity in the civil service recruitment process based on a merit-based system.

A merit-based system geared towards a performance reward base for individuals, taking into account their true potential, skills, and abilities, should be one of the consideration factors in civil service appointments and promotions.

This also means that all the civil service staff are assessed based on their potential capabilities and capacities, merits, and qualifications, and not on their racial or ethnic background.

This will also facilitate the most qualified and competent individuals to be selected for roles in the public service, which will then result towards a more efficient service that promotes better work output efficiency in the civil service workforce.

Furthermore, by having a quota system, this type of recruitment selection will affect the work culture, as this can be detrimental to workforce performance, which could lead towards resentment and dissatisfaction among the civil workforce, and hence, would affect productivity.

Without an ethnic-based quota system, we would be able to see the true potential of individuals in the long run, as they are groomed and encouraged to develop and improve their skills and knowledge, and thus, inadvertently, could also lead them towards better prospects when it comes to advancement and growth in the public service.

Furthermore, imbalanced participation of the various races in the civil service would then add to the present under-representation of certain ethnic groups in the civil workforce, thus, making it more challenging for the government to instil a work culture that promotes a diverse and inclusive civil service.

In hindsight, these thoughts by the GPS secretary-general to come up with the idea of re-visiting the job recruitment process is indeed timely. After all, Sarawak does need a major transformation shift to enhance and sustain its political stability and to achieve constant and sustainable economic growth.

Furthermore, this is also an integral part of the region’s aspiration to reinvent itself and engineer transformation, in line with Sarawak’s quest to achieve fully-developed status by 2030.

Political stability will also act as a synergistic catalyst towards enhancing Sarawak’s prosperity and ensuring that the rakyat is united whilst celebrating ethnic and cultural diversity as the foundation for the region to sustain its development progress.

Furthermore, for Sarawak to be progressive and dynamic, stakeholders, including all Sarawakians, must work together towards a common goal.

It’s also good to note that, to date, the Sarawak government, under the able leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, has a very good track record of embracing equitable distribution in participation in infrastructure development by giving priority to rural development so that the rural areas will not be left behind.

By embracing a transformation-change journey, this move by the region also reciprocates the trust being accorded to them, by the rakyat, in general.

Being a part of the workforce in the Kapit District Council, an implementation agency for the government whose workforce is mainly on the frontline constantly interacting with the general public, I do place high hopes in the GPS government, with respect to transforming its working culture in the civil service, just like in the corporate sector, whereby, merely “talk-the-talk” culture is no longer enough anymore because what the general public want to see is the realisation of the “walk-the-talk” culture at work.

That should be the way for the GPS government to move forward in its transformation journey, for all stakeholders in the civil service to be able to focus more towards enriching the region towards more sustainable economic growth, embracing inclusivity rather than exclusivity among the various races participating in the civil service workforce. — DayakDaily

Lating Minggang is the Walikota for Kapit District Council.

This is the personal opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of DayakDaily. Letters to the Editor may be lightly edited for clarity.