Among a total of 8,372 Johor Civil Servants there are only 10 Chinese (0.12%), 116 Indian (1.38%) and 2 other Non- Malay civil servants-i.e. a total of 1.52% Johor Civil Servants are Non-Malays. On the contrary Non-Malays make up about 40% of the Johor State population.
It only reflects an acute imbalanced racial composition of Johor Civil Service and it hardly reflects the multiracial outlook of Johor's populace. Racism is known to be the rule in selecting and promoting Federal and Johor Civil Servants which is acknowledged by the former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahatir Mohamad that he practices racism.
In 1980 when Mahatir took over the Government as Prime Minister, there were 30% Non-Malay civil servants that could reflect a more Malaysian outlook. Mahatir has made it clear in various occasions that it is a "Malay Administration" than a Malaysian Administration that he was running. Therefore race and skin colour is the major consideration in selecting and promoting civil servants than merits and efficiency.
But does racism pay off? Over 22 years of his reign, Malaysia has slipped away from the league of little Asian Tigers economies-i.e. Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. It has joined the league of little sick Asian Tigers of the Philippines and Myanmar while starting to show signs of lagging behind Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand in both economic and political developments.
In 1980 when Mahatir took over as the Prime Minister, Malaysia had a GNP per capita that was slightly higher than South Korea and Taiwan. Today their GNPs per capita are 3 to 4 times higher than ours. Moreover the interracial income disparities between Malays and Non-Malays has remained unchanged as in 1970. Even though there has been a rise in GNP per capita overall, class distinctions and imbalances in wealth distribution have become more severe.
Malaysia has also failed to attract direct foreign investment mainly due to its racially charged economic policies and a highly polarizsed civil service of which its efficiency needs to be better than its neighbours especially Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to attract foreign direct investment and remodel its economy.
To improve civil service's efficiency merits but not skin colour and one's Bumiputera status must prevail. Malaysia has to convince foreign investors about its commitment to reform its ailing public sector, GLCs and economy but making its public sector more responsive and productive. To make it a more Malaysian and cosmopolitan outlook, it has to make it more reflective of a vibrant multiethnic outlook by encouraging healthy competition among the civil servants for promotion and rewards.
A civil servant average income is about one-fifth to one-half of a worker with corresponding qualification and job nature in the private sector. It is necessary to improve public sector's wages close to that of the private sector in order to improve its productivity and encourage Non-Malays to join. A lack of fair promotion and wages in the public sector not only discourages the Non-Malays from joining it but also discourages productivity and cultivates poverty among Malays bacuase their wages are generally lower than in the private sector.
Many Non-Malays have complained that they are even refused to be given application forms for lower-rank public sector jobs such as cleaners in local councils. It proves that racism has been institutionalised in the public sector by Mahatir who proclaimed that it is a "Malay Administration", not a "Malaysian Administration". Non-Malays have been systematically excluded not only from the top jobs in civil service but also cleaning jobs.
Racism has instilled a work culture of favouritism that keeps local and foreign investors away. Johor is a good example with an almost 100% single-race civil service that is impossible to convince international investors that Johor is serious about making Iskandar Malaysia a cosmopolitan and international investment hub.
Racism is proven to be counterproductive, and both Federal and Johor Civil Services need to be more open for changes before it can further develop Johor both politically and economically. .