Is the plunge of the sole Malaysian Indian KSU from the civil service stratosphere of the Treasury between 1994-1997 to the depths of the National Unity and Social Development Ministry from 1998 to 2003 another sign of the relentless marginalization of Indians into an underclass?

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): Yesterday, I said that  on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of Samy Vellu as Minister since his first Cabinet appointment on 21st October 1979, making him the most senior and longest-serving Minister in the country after the retirement of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister  in eight days’ time on Oct. 31, I found to my shock and horror that none of the Malaysian Indians  I asked could immediately answer two questions: 

  • Who is the highest Malaysian  Indian in the public service, whether there is a Malaysian  Indian who is a Ketua Setiausaha (KSU), and if so, who is he, what is his post. 
  • Had there been a Malaysian  Indian  KSU  in the past six years and if so their identities.

The present Malaysian Indian KSU is Dr. P. Manogran, who was appointed National Unity and Social Development Ministry secretary-general from February 5,  2001, who succeeded Datuk R. Theivandaran who retired from the same post on January 15, 2001.   Theivandaran was the Malaysian  Indian KSU before Manogran, from May 7, 1998 to Jan. 15, 2001. 

There was no Malaysian Indian KSU in the first four months of 1998, as the previous Malaysian Indian KSU Datuk Clifford Francis Herbert was the  Finance Ministry’s secretary-general from August 8, 1994 to December 31, 1997. 

The questions that Samy Vellu should answer are whether his tenure of close to a quarter of a century as Cabinet Minister represented  the Malaysian  Indian participation ratio and role in the public service at its worst, highlighting the relentless political and socio-economic marginalization of the Malaysian  Indians into an underclass with  the double plunge of: 

  • the Malaysian Indian ratio in the civil service from 9.8% in 1980 to 5.2% as revealed in Parliament on Monday, totally in violation of the Second Outline Perspective Plan 1990-2000 targets of  8.2% in 1990 and 9% in 2000; and
  • the role and quality of  sole Malaysian Indian KSU from the civil service stratosphere of the Treasury between 1994-1997 to the depths of the National Unity and Social Development Ministry from 1998 to 2003.

The post of KSU of the Finance Ministry is one of the highest civil service positions while that of KSU of the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development belong to the lowliest rungs of KSUs.

The higher  echelons of the civil service are divided into seven superscale grades, viz: 

VU1    Ketua Setiausaha Negara   RM9,681.10 – RM13,940.30
VU2    Gred Utama Turus I           RM9,257.60 – RM13,335.30
VU3    Gred Utama Turus II          RM8,822.00 – RM12,706.10
VU4    Gred Utama Turus III         RM8,023.40 -  RM11,544.50
VU5    Gred Utama A                   RM7,224.80 – RM  9,039.80
VU6    Gred Utama B                   RM6,571.40 – RM  8,229.10
VU7    Gred Utama C                   RM6,135.80 – RM  7,672.50


The post of Treasury KSU held by Clifford Herbert between 1994-1997  was the second highest grade of VU2 while the post of National Unity and Social Development Ministry  KSU is a lowly VU6.  As a matter of interest, among the posts ranked in the  third highest grades of VU3 are the Inspector-General of Police and  the Chief of Armed Forces. 

Dr. Manogran was director-general of planning of the Public Services Department before his KSU appointment. Why is Manogran stuck in the National Unity and Social Development Ministry without any chance of promotion to higher KSU grades to other more important Ministries? 

I have received emails about the Malaysian Indian ratio and role in the civil service, in particular reference to the nation-building goal and the restructuring objective  of the New Economic Policy, National Development Policy and the three Outline Perspective Plans to ensure that the civil service reflect fairly the racial composition of the country’s population. 

One email said: 

“Forget about KSUs. Look at the smaller shots.... headmasters of Primary Schools (SK and the former SRK) just how many Chinese or Indians are headmasters? Look at the Secondary schools, its probably one Chinese or one Indian Headmaster in a few districts, even where the population is pretty mixed. 

“Look at the Pengarah Hospital, and Pegawai Kesihatan in the districts, and see how drastically it has changed in the last two decades! Kementerian Kesihatan was one of the last ministries to be affected and yet the change is dramatic!  

“Look at the hospital support staff level, Medical Assistants, Sisters, Matrons, dispensers, Laboratory Technologists, even at the staff nurse level, its kind of frightening!” 

Another email said: 

“I was at a co-operative committee meeting  during the weekend, where there are  7 Secondary school teachers  who are in the committee of 12. From the teachers I gather what is current in the schools system. In a school of about 60-70 teachers there are only less than 10 non-Malay teachers, and the youngest is 37 or something. Most of them are counting their years to retirement!...and want to be out!...I am talking about schools having 40-50%  non Malay pupils!  

“Malay graduates from the US and Mara don’t want to teach the subjects that they graduated in but want to do art, P.E., Moral etc!...leaving the non Malays to do the difficult jobs, including discipline, and disciplining Malay pupils takes on a sensitive tone at times. 

“So where is the existing School system taking us?...producing the next generation of Malaysians?”

The problems about the Malaysian Indian and non-Malay  ratio and role in the public service, as well as the complaints raised by the two emails I mentioned, are very serious issues which should deserve top priority attention and debate of the present Parliamentary meeting as well as the civil society – for they will go a long way to determining whether Malaysia will succeed as a united, harmonious, progressive and prosperous nation in the new millennium.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman