I was reading the STAR (18 September 2008) and came across this report on page N18 - Govt Staff Seek Salary Advance, Extra Holiday.
It was reported that Cuepacs president sent a letter to the Chief Secretary (KSN) asking for salaries to be paid a few days earlier so that they would have money for Raya celebrations and the holiday. It was also reported he further requested for October 3 2008 to be a holiday so that civil servants can enjoy a longer break.
Now, I can understand the request for advance payment. In fact I would like to suggest that these advance payments are made not only for Hari Raya Aidilfiti but also for Chinese New Year, Deepavali and whatever else major religious celebrations.
But to ask for a day off??!! Just so that they can enjoy a longer break? To be honest and direct about it, I am appalled and totally disappointed with Omar Osman (Cuepacs President) and I assume the committee for requesting it. Have we not way too many holidays already as it is. In all fairness, if we were to calculate properly and taking out the weekends, national and state holidays including Hari Raya, Chinese new Year, Deepavali, Agong's birthday, Merdeka and what nots, we are probably officially working about 220 days to 240 days out of 365 days a year. Don't forget the annual leave (some 14 days others more or less), medical leave (if any), we are probably looking at about 200 days +- a few days in a year that we are actually working.
I sincerely hope Omar Osman's and his committee's views are not shared by the majority of the civil service. We need more effective working hours, more effective working days for Malaysia, not less. How do you want to develop Malaysia if we have civil servants more concerned about holidays and leaving the office right on the dot rather than being concerned with finishing their work.
I want to put in my personal experience though, which I find very gratifying. I have interacted closely due to my nature of work and political involvement with several ministries, amongst which are Education (MOE), Higher Education (MOHE) and Agriculture (MOA). I find the officers there very committed to work and do not care about leaving on the dot. I know of officers who work til late, way after the normal office hours and those who even go in during weekends and holidays just to finish their work properly. To these officers and I know for a fact there are many of them, I salute you and pray that God will reward you.
This is what the country needs. Commitment and dedication, perseverance and a will to succeed individually and collectively as a nation, for the nation.
To Omar Osman and his committee ie those who want this extra day off - just go apply using your annual leave allocation. As the malay saying goes ' (Jangan)kerana nila setitik, habis rosak susu sebelanga'.
I leave you for today with an article from YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir from his blog www.chedet.com on this matter titled Cuti-Cuti Malaysia....
1. There are only 365 days in a year. Take away 104 days of Saturdays and Sundays weekends and we have left 261 working days. But Malaysia is multi-religious and we must not work during Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali. But we must also not work on Wesak Day, Taipusam, Christmas, New Year, Federal Territory Day, various Muslim holy days and I do not know what else.
2. But we must not work on by-election polling day also. Then there is the Agong's Birthday and the birthdays of all the Sultans and Governors.
3. We seem to find more reason for not working. If the holiday falls on a weekend, then have a long vacation beginning the day before Saturday and the day after Sunday - four days in all.
4. I love all these. Kuala Lumpur is cleaner when people leave the city for balik kampong on Raya and Chinese New Year. It is exhilarating to drive on streets which are almost deserted.
5. But I ask myself are people like me, a pensioner being paid and not working? Or is the country on automatic - administering itself? Or is it that there really is not much work to do that we can close up for one-third of the year?
6. We are still a developing country. Developing requires work. Rich developed countries can afford not to work. August holidays see the cities like Paris and London bereft of traffic.
7. I believe, but I may be wrong, that when you are trying to catch up with someone running ahead of you, you must run faster than him. We have this great ambition to become a developed country. If we move slower than our objective can we catch up? I think we cannot.
8. A developed country today and a developed country in 2020 is not the same. In 2020 it will be far more advanced and richer than in 2008. The developed status is not static. It is moving.
9. Even if it seem to be growing slowly percentage-wise, but its one percent is bigger than our 5 or 6 percent. Our base is lower. To catch up we must really grow faster.
10. Can we grow faster by not working? I think not.
11. Lets look at the implication of having holidays. If workers have to work on holidays they have to be paid twice their daily wage. If they work beyond working hours they have to be paid four times their wages. And many industries just cannot stop operating.
12. All these add up to higher cost of production and therefore we will be less competitive. For a trading nation which depends on exporting goods, raw material and services, the cost of our exports is important. We will not be competitive especially against low-wage countries. But not to worry. The Government will make us competitive by withdrawing subsidies and giving them back again under different headings in the budget or off-budget.
13. Its a bit early but I would like to wish everyone Happy Hari Raya. Please drive slowly. We want you to come back after a very relaxing 4 - 5 days holiday. Do not worry about unfinished work. It can take care of itself.
P.S. I think the Government and the private sector should consider retreats. It's not a holiday of course but comes very close to a holiday. Besides you can become a savvy agriculturist.