PETALING JAYA: The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has opposed the idea of abolishing or reducing pensions for new civil servants, calling the proposal “absurd”.
Its president Datuk Adnan Mat said this when commenting on former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent comment that pensions for politicians and new civil servants should be ended and that they be included in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme instead.
Khairy also said the existing pension schemes are excessively generous.
“If we do not recognise it (pensions) as a ticking time bomb which, if we do not do anything, it will squeeze the space for the government to build more schools, hospitals, clinics and others, I think we are in a denial syndrome.”
Khairy added that Putrajaya forked out about RM30 billion for pensions in 2022, which made up nearly 10% of the government’s annual budget expenditure.
He said former prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said pension payments were expected to reach some RM46.6 billion by 2030.
In response, Adnan said pensions are a form of recognition for the services of civil servants and their contributions over the years.
“It is not a burden on the government,” he said, and disagreed with the comparison between civil servant pensions and those of MPs or ministers.
He emphasised that civil servants often receive small monthly payouts despite long years of service.
“Instead of targeting civil servants, the government should abolish pensions for MPs as a cost-saving measure. Cuepacs stands against any reduction in the privileges enjoyed by civil servants,” he said.
Political analyst Amirul Syazwan Hamzah, who observes economic and geopolitical trends, said the debate surrounding the abolition or retention of pensions for politicians and civil servants is complex and multifaceted.
While declining to comment on pensions for politicians, he said pensions for civil servants should be retained.
“Abolishing civil servant pensions could address concerns about fairness, financial responsibility and accountability.
“However, maintaining it ensures adequate compensation, attracts skilled individuals to the civil service and preserves trust in government institutions.
“Civil servants such as healthcare professionals, armed forces personnel, teachers and many others often work long hours, navigate complex challenges and shoulder the weight of immense responsibilities,” Amirul Syazwan said.
He added that retaining the pension system could ensure that highly skilled and talented individuals are attracted to public service careers.
“Without this benefit, potential candidates might be deterred from working in the civil service, considering the potential income disparities between the private and public sectors.
“Pensions serve as an incentive, ensuring that the government has access to experienced and capable individuals to efficiently govern and administer its departments and institutions.
“However, the decision to retain or eliminate pensions should balance the need for fiscal responsibilities, fairness and the ability to attract talented individuals who are essential for sound governance.”
Amirul Syazwan emphasised that the government should carefully evaluate the cost and benefits of the pension system, taking into account public sentiment, the economic context and the unique demands that public service entails.
A government school teacher with 12 years experience, Nur Hezlin Jailani, said while she agrees with Khairy’s suggestion, not all pensions should be eliminated.
“There are politicians who already enjoy substantial salaries and benefits. Granting them generous pensions on top of these privileges is quite unjust, especially when compared with what civil servants receive.
“Equality dictates that no one should receive special treatment based solely on their government position. But civil servants should continue to receive pensions on account of our lower salaries compared with the private sector.
“The government should focus on investing its funds to build hospitals, schools and hire more experts in related fields, which should be addressed immediately,” she said.
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