The bonus for civil servants announced in the annual Malaysian federal budget no doubt brings cheer to the public sector, but raises questions on its validity and sustainability amid concerns that the government machinery needs to be trimmed.
If bonuses are a reward for good work, has the civil service on the whole done a good enough job? Could not more public funds be diverted to infrastructure, technology and research? And is the Malaysian civil service of 1.5 million workers, really as bloated as it is perceived to be?
In interviews with an economist, civil servants and those who have left the service, The Malaysian Insider discovered that the more important question was not how much, but which areas to trim, and also whether people will be willing to bear the consequences of a leaner public sector.