This Cabinet decision is most disappointing as not in keeping with changing times or reflective of a millennium mentality.
The Barisan Alternative in its common manifesto, Towards A Just Malaysia, had proposed increasing the retirement age to 60 years for the public sector consistent with the improvement of health and life span.
In April 1998, the Public Services Department had agreed to study the proposal by Cuepacs to extend the retirement age of civil servants to 58.
The arguments for raising the retirement age of civil servants
It is clear from the timing of the announcement on the decision to reject the CUEPACS proposal for raising the retirement age that this is one of the decisions which had been taken by the new Cabinet after the tenth general election on Nov. 29, 1999.
Were all the Cabinet Ministers fully briefed of the pros and cons of the CUEPACs proposal, when was the decision taken by the Cabinet and was there a full and extensive discussion in the Cabinet before a decision was taken. Or did the Cabinet just rubber-stamp the proposal from PSD with no or at most perfunctory discussion?
Malaysians are entitled to know answers to these questions for in the new millennium, the people expect higher standards of Ministerial and Parliamentary performances and accountability.
There should have been an extensive public consultation process before the Cabinet took a decision to reject the CUEPACS proposal as it affects not only the civil service but all Malaysians as well.
The civil service and the public are entitled to know the reasons for the Cabinet decision and the Public Services Department study leading to the Cabinet decision should be made public and subject of public consultation, discussion and debate.
For this reason, I call on the Cabinet to present a White Paper why
it has rejected CUEPACS proposal to raise retirement age of civil servants,
including making public the PSD study, and to welcome public discussion
as to whether the Cabinet should immediatey review and reconsider its decision.
The public discussion should also consider whether the proposal that heads of department be given powers to recommend staff whose services can be extended beyond 55, with a maximum extension of three years based on performance and need, is satisfactory and acceptable or is likely to be open to abuses and arbitrary decision-making process.