Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Port Dickson on Saturday, 29th Sept. 1973 at 9 p.m.
Two proposals for the rectification of racial imbalance in the recruitment of nurses and assistant nurses by Public Services Commission
Two weeks ago, the Health Minister, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, expressed his unhappiness over the present nurses recruitment exercises because the recent intake does not reflect the racial composition in the country.
This led to a public clarification by the Public Services Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Sheikh Abdullah bin Sheikh Abu Bakar, who asserted with facts and figures that “it has always been the policy as well as the practice of this Commission to be as fair and as just, as is humanly possible, to all candidates regardless of race and religion: and wherever possible to reflect the multi-racial character of the country in the public service.”
Tan Sri Sheikh Abdullah slanted the figures to support his statement, although in actual fact, the figures clearly showed that the Public Services Commission had not reflected the multi-racial character of the country in its recruitment exercises into the public service.
Thus, in the recruitment exercise in for nurses in July/August 1972, out of a total of 407 nurses recruited, 326 were Malays and 81 non-Malays. This works out to a percentage intake of 80.1% for Malays and 19.9% for non-Malays.
In the nurses recruitment exercise in September this year, the racial imbalance was even greater. Thus out of a total of 690 persons recruited, 606 were Malays and 84 Non-Malays, or percentage wise, 87.8% Malay take (as compared to 80.1% Malay intake the previous year) and 12.2% non-Malay intake (as compared to 19.9% intake the previous year.)
The PSC argument that there were not many applications from Chinese and Indians is a mere excuse, as in 1972 only 27 per cent of those interviewed were recruited, while in 1973, only 14.8 per cent of those interviewed were selected. Furthermore, the total number of non-Malay application per year is a small percentage of the non-Malay school-leavers who would like to become nurses, but who felt it was a waste of time to go through the application process as “they do not stand a chance at all in being selected”.
The figures the PSC has given concerning the recruitment for assistant nurses (requiring only SRP/LCE qualifications as compared to the basic qualifications of SPM/MCE required for nurses) is equally disappointing.
Thus, in the November/December 1972 exercise, out of a total of 600 persons selected, 529 or 88% were Malays while 71 or 12% were non-Malays.
In the August/September recruitment exercise for assistant nurses, out of a total of 410 successful applicants, 351 or 86% went to Malays and 59 or 14% went to non-Malays.
These figures pointed vividly to the failure by the PSC to reflect the multi-racial population of the country in its intake of nurses and assistant nurses.
For the past two weeks, I had been waiting for an announcement by the Minister of Health, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, declaring a new recruitment policy in regard to nurses and assistant nurses to reflect the multi-racial population in the country,
Malaysians are aware that previously, the UMNO Youth had raised complaints about racial imbalances in employment in government departments, statutory bodies and private firms, and these complaints were immediately attended to by the authorities concerned.
It is therefore a matter of surprise and disappointment that Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew has no further word on this matter, nor has he taken any action to right the situation, although we read in the press everyday a speech or statement by him in different parts of the country about more clinics, mobile vans, medical research plans, etc.
In fact, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew has nothing to say about the allegation by the PSC Chairman, Tan Sri Sheikh Abdullah, that the Minister has been misled by his own officials.
It is no use a Minister expressing his unhappiness about a certain matter, and doing nothing about it, although it comes within his jurisdiction. This is just like the statement by Tun Tan Siew Sin that one of the major causes of inflation was because importers made more than 100% profits, but Tun Tan as Finance Minister does nothing about it.
A minister is there, and paid $4000 a month not merely to express his unhappiness, but to remove the source of unhappiness to the people and country.
As Health Minister, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew has the powers and duty to ensure that recruitment of nurses, assistant nurses and other personnel reflect the multi-racial population in the country, and he should take action to right the wrongs and remove the injustices.
I here make two proposals to the health Minister for the rectification of racial imbalance in the recruitment of nurses and assistant nurses by the Public Services Commission.
1. He should, as Health Minister and master of his own Ministry, issue a directive to the Public Services Commission drawing its attention to the racial imbalance in nurses recruitments, the Public Services Commission should strictly reflect the multi-racial population in the recruitment of nurses and assistant nurses.
2. Alternatively, he should put up a paper to the Cabinet and ask for a Cabinet directive to the Public Services Commission to strictly reflect the multi-racial population in the recruitment of nurses and assistant nurses.
Although the Public Services Commission is responsible for the individual selection of applicants, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew is finally responsible to the country and the electorate in ensuring that there is proper racial balance in the various grades of government personnel in his Ministry. This is in accordance with the democratic principle of Ministerial responsibility.