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Home Dr. Lim Teck Ghee Tyranny of the M’sian bureaucracy
Tyranny of the M’sian bureaucracy
CPI Writings
Written by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
Friday, 26 February 2010 13:14

During the last few days we have had two clear examples of how tyrannical and vicious the Malaysian bureaucracy can be, and how unyielding it is to any reform measures or initiatives. This Mr Hyde side of the Malaysian bureaucracy is not the usual dark side that the Malaysian public is familiar with – one associated with inefficiency, laziness, poor service, abuse of power or corruption.

It is one that is part and parcel of the hidden racially-charged context of our institutions and it smacks of the ideology of Malay dominance – or even Malay supremacy – that the civil service has come to personify. This is the dark side that is generally kept away from public scrutiny and accountability, not only because it runs against the grain of what a modern, progressive and representative civil service is, but also because it is regarded as politically incorrect to discuss or analyze it.

The first example appeared just two weeks ago when a courageous whistleblower, Dr Selvaa Vathany, a doctor from the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA) Hospital, Gombak made startling claims of rampant malpractice, misappropriation of resources and other wrongdoings by the hospital staff and associated agencies of government dealing with the Orang Asli.

Dr Selvaa is not your ordinary whistleblower. Providing details on the importance of healthcare and medical assistance for the Orang Asli – their children are 15 times more likely to die from malnourishment compared to other children – she revealed that for entire communities “essentials given out are limited to one to two bottles of cooking oil, six to eight tins of canned food, two packets of 400g Milo, 15 to 20 small packets of milk powder, 10 to 20 diapers, two bottles of detergent and 10 to 20 pairs of slippers, per visit. These are distributed at random …. If the villagers are lucky, distribution could be as frequent as once in every two to three months”.

She noted that “a tin of infant milk is divided into six small packets with 15 to 20 packets distributed to a village of between 250 to 500 people”.

All of this is strong circumstantial evidence that resources meant for Orang Asli communities are hijacked, possibly by the very people entrusted with the responsibility of distributing them to these vulnerable groups.

In her press conference, she also pointed to an institutional defect in which individuals without medical training and incapable of following Health Ministry protocols and standards were made hospital administrators and were appointed from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.

Most tellingly, she pointed to an extensive cover-up of the scandal with little or no follow-up to the complaints made to the Prime Minister’s Department, Rural and Regional Development Ministry, Health Ministry, Chief Secretary, Public Service Department and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The only follow-up that has taken place appears to have been the thuggish and unacceptable response of the team from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry who “questioned the complaint… made by the Orang Asli in an unprofessional manner”, and threatened and attempted to intimidate them.

For her professionalism and integrity in speaking out on behalf of a marginalized and impoverished community, Dr Selvaa is now being transferred to Kedah where presumably she will be left to rot and to rue her courageous challenge of the status quo.

Outsiders controlling the Orang Asli

The second example also relates to the Orang Asli and it concerns the response of the Orang Asli Affairs Department to the demand for increased representation at the management level in government agencies formed to handle Orang Asli affairs.

According to the group raising these concerns, the JHEOA is staffed by over-80 percent non-Orang Asli, resulting in decisions not favourable to their needs and the marginalization of Orang Asli voices in important policies that affect their livelihoods.

This is not the first time that such concerns have been raised. During the past 50 years we have had a constant stream of written petitions, memoranda, press statements, expert reports and academic work that have drawn attention to the way in which the government has violated the basic rights of the Orang Asli and analyzed how the JHEOA and associated government agencies have been the main instruments for control and repression of the community.

In response, the Government has simply ignored them or opted for delaying tactics.

In this particular instance, in typical foot-dragging response, the department’s Director-General Mohd Sani Mistram said that the group should have gone through the “proper channels” to air their grievances and that it was an “internal matter” between the Orang Asli and the department.

Both these cases – the punishment meted out to a whistleblower and the cold shoulder treatment of legitimate Orang Asli grievances – epitomize how dangerous it is for our democratic system to remain silent or passive in the face of an increasingly out of touch and unrepresentative civil service. They are the tip of the iceberg of many unexposed and undisclosed abuses that needs to be put in the spotlight of public scrutiny.

At the end of the day, the most effective public scrutiny that can realistically have an immediate impact on these cases of rogue individuals and agencies of the civil service that are throttling the Orang Asli is that coming from Malay intelligentsia and Malay civil society.

Indeed, some Malay colleagues have shown goodwill in helping the Orang Asli to correct some of the “historical injustices” that have been perpetrated on the original inhabitants of the Peninsula. It could make a difference if Malay leaders are willing to take up the case of Dr Selvaa and stop her victimization by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.

At the same time, more Malaysians of conscience need to step up to the plate if the Orang Asli community is to regain their rightful place in the country.

Comments Add New Search

RobertLing |2010-02-26

It is really sad and certainly depressing to know that those that were employed to look after our very poor are siphoning away the very neccesities required by these poor and helpless orang asli.

These civil servants have enriched themselves but in the end they had caused a whole generation of orang asli to be suffering from malnutrition and on the brink of death due to their greed.

They had lost the trust of the nation and do not deserved to be retained in the civil service.

Only the brave and the principled dare to expose the wrongdoings. Perhaps, there need to be a total revamp of the JHEOA and to be staffed by the orang asli themselves.

We can only hear denial after denial and the Orang Asli affairs department director and his subordinates denying such wrongdoings. This is a hallmark of our civil service and government.

Similar incidents are happening in Sarawak and Sabah and come elections the government of the day will try to make up and spruce longhouses and rebuild damaged ones.

Who are they trying to hoodwinked.


Samuel Goh Kim Eng - Bureaucrats Who Drive People Crazy |2010-02-26


There are some within the bureaucracy
Who will drive people they serve crazy
Not just because they are openly lazy
But with self-interests are kept busy

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 260210
Fr i. 26th Feb. 2010.


Paperless Homework Sdn Bhd - CTO |2010-02-26

If anyone out there know how to reach out to the orang Asli or willing to contribute some computer hardware like cheap netbooks with solar power we would love to provide these people with our free educational contents for free.

This way, they would get latest education to uplift themselves.

We can provide all orang Asli in the entire country our products free ...



nxforget |2010-02-26

There't no money to be made or political mileage to be made.

Otherwise, vultures will swarm in to offer all kind of assistance.

Whistleblower is the victim ... as always to cover weakness and wrongdoing.


Gpeace |2010-02-26

Thank you Dr. Lim for this very informative and direct-to-the-point article which should help to wake up the Malaysian public to the malpractices by the government departments and agencies, such as Prime Minister’s Department, Rural and Regional Development Ministry, Health Ministry, Chief Secretary, Public Service Department and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), whose salaries are being paid by us. The Orang Asli are the true Bumiputras of Malaysia (unlike the other groups who are "pendatang" Bumis) whose rights have been hijacked by the "false" Bumis. These real Bumis, instead of being treated with due respect like the other tax payers, are instead being bullied by the corrupted civil servants who are supposed to serve them, and our government conveniently turns a blind eye to all these wrong doings.

Furthermore, the whistle-blower, instead of being promoted for doing a good job according to her conscience, has been punished by being transferred to a rural area and "cold storaged."

It is time for all right thinking Malaysians, irrespective of race or gender, to rise up together as an effective mass to boot out these corrupted civil servants, including the number one civil servant, the present PM of Malaysia.


Idris Jala - Aboriginal people's rights |2010-02-26

and mahathir says that Australia is neglecting its indigenous people's rights when the situation is far worse at home.


ygbenor - Rot to its core |2010-02-26

I am really worried the state of affair in Malaysia. Its going to rot to the core very soon as long as UMNO/ BN rules te country. The above articles proves it is going to the gutter.


Nobody |2010-02-26

All natives are being exploited. the Orang Asli in West Malaysia and the natives of Borneo in Sarawak and Sabah.

Hail BN, the Nazis of the 21st century.


gorilla - i m not blind |2010-02-26

tunggu general election


Joea |2010-02-26

Like the Australian, UMNO wants to exterminate the orang alsi n steal their land.

I jusy hope that the orang asli will get very. very mad n use their blowpipe on those scumbags.


Azli Othman |2010-02-26

We need more whistle blowers to expose corruption and mismanagement. Billions of taxpayer's money could be saved if we can reduce mismanagement and inefficiency.
But Malaysians don't seem to give a hoot on how their taxes are being misspent.


Sam |2010-02-26

The UMNO and UMNO-linked Malays have become an ugly race. They have forgotten their culture. They are in the civil service -police, macc, ag chambers, the judiciary etc. Sin is their name.
They might even tell the Orang Asli to get out of the country if they are not happy living in this country.


Al Tugauw - Malayan (UMNO Malay) Bureaucracy |2010-02-26

This is typical Malayan (UMNO Malay) bureaucracy masquerading as "Malaysian". They have hijacked and subverted all branches of government, trashed state and minority indigenous rights, empowered and enriched themselves at the people's expense and generally mistreated everyone else except themselves, abused their positions, etc. They will only stop when a general uprising of a fed-up populace holds them and their political masters to account.


Azizi Khan - Compassion |2010-02-27

I think its utterly disgraceful for the so called compassionate Muslim Malays to treat the real Bumiputra with contempt. This is the hypocrisy in Malaysia today. The Malays in government preach Islam but none follow it. Its all a matter of technicality. You show the world how you pray five times a day but in reality the actions do not portray a true Muslim.


KHOO SUAT CHIN - Tyranny of the M’sian bureaucracy |2010-02-27

Can't understand why these people in power are without compassion and do not feel guilty for the wrong doinng


Hamidun Abdullah - Tyranny of the M’sian bureaucracy |2010-02-27

I have written a short article on this attitudes of the Malays. My article can be read at with the title "Melayu & Islam". This is the type of attitude and behaviour that gave Islam the bad name. Thought my examples were a bit general, yours have is very specific.
These people involves were Malays and they also called themselves Muslims. But their behaviour and attitudes are far from being Islamic. But unfortunately Islam gets the bad name.
They chant the praise of the Prophet s.a.w. but they never practice what the Prophet s.a.w. preached.


dida |2010-02-27

there are the bumis and there are the BUMIs.

it's almost like Hitler's Germany - purification by eradication


soul survivor - CHANGE in the name of Allah |2010-02-27

Allah is Most Great!umno will die for all their misdeeds to us malaysians and our orangasli!truth shall surface!change is near and clear.umno can do whatever evil deeds as they want but it will stop.umno plans but Allah has His plan too and who is the better planner!...tik,tik,tik,tik,tik...BOOM!!