Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, when officiating at the inauguration of the Malacca DAP Labour Bureau at DAP Melaka premises on Friday, 23rd Sept. 1977 at 8pm.
Why the delay in appointing Mr. Anomaly – Chairman of the Public Services Tribunal?
Although the Public Services Tribunal Bill 1977 passed through the Dewan Rakyat on July 26 and the Dewan Negara on August 8, the Government has not yet appointed the Chairman of the Public Services Tribunal and the panel members who are to be entrusted with the task of inquiring into and resolving anomalies affecting the remunerations and terms and conditions of service in the public service as a result of the implementation of the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report.
The public service trade unions want a High Court Judge to be Chairman of the Public Services Tribunal, and it is imperative that whoever is appointed to be the Chairman of the Public Services Tribunal should be an eminent persons who commands the respect of all parties for his impartiality, independence and ability, who would want to be Mr. Anomaly and spend the next few years to straighten out the anomalies created by Dr. Mahathir’s Cabinet Committee.
Clause 3(2) of the Public Services Tribunal Act envisages the appointment of a member of the Tribunal for a term of three years. The Prime Minister, Dato Hussein Onn, disclosed in Parliament in July that over 500 memoranda concerning anomalies arising from the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report had been received by the Government, and that more can be expected.
In view of the volume of anomalies that have been raised by the public services unions, the appointment of the Public Services Tribunal (which should more appropriately be termed Public Anomalies Tribunal) should not be delayed any longer, so that these anomalies can be immediately attended to. Malaysian public servants would surely want to know the reason for the delay in appointing Mr. Anomaly and the panel members of the Public Services Tribunal.
The new legislation provides that any anomaly be first raised with the Federal Government for the purpose of negotiation, (Clause 11(1)) and should negotiation fail, the dispute in regard to the anomaly shall be referred to the Tribunal by either party to the dispute.
Although the Public Services Tribunal has not been set up, there is no reason why the Government should not commence negotiations with the trade unions which have referred anomalies to the Government – and as the Prime Minister has said, there are now over 500 memoranda from public services unions about the volumes of Mahathir anomalies.
This the Public Services Department has done. In fact the PSD appears to be sitting on the 500 memoranda, without commencing negotiations with a view to their reference to the Public Services Tribunal in the event of failure to resolve them.
I will like to know how long the PSD or the Federal Government would take to complete the negotiations stage on the over 500 memoranda. From previous government performance, with the over 500 memoranda in government hands, some unions or workers may have to wait five years or eight years before their anomalies reach the Public Services Tribunal.
Clause 15 of the Public Services Tribunal legislation provides that the decision of the Tribunal on any anomaly referred to it shall be “final and conclusive”, and that the decision shall be implement as soon as practicable, “but not later than six months from the date of the decision being given.”
The legislation, however, is conspicuously silent as to the time period within which an anomaly must be referred to the Tribunal after it has been referred to the Government for negotiations. Thus Clause 12 of the Act reads: “Where an anomaly exists under section ll and that anomaly is not otherwise resolved by negotiation, the dispute in regard to the anomaly shall be referred to the Tribunal by either party to the dispute.”
At what stage can the unions or the workers say that the negotiations procedure provided by Clause 11 has failed to resolve the dispute affecting an anomaly, and entitles the union or worker to refer it to the Tribunal? The law is silent on this, which will give considerable room for delaying tactics by the Public Services Department.
Again, the law is silent as to the time period within which the Tribunal must hand down a decision after a dispute had been referred to it for decision.
Thus, it can take several years before a dispute on anomaly, now embodied in a memoranda to the Government, is referred to the Tribunal; and another several years before the Tribunal hands down a decision. In these circumstances, the provision in Clause 15(2) providing for the implementation of a Tribunal decision within six months of its award is quite irrelevant.
Unions, workers and concerned observers are entitled to ask whether these omissions are accidental.
The Acting Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, should clear the air and give a categorical assurance that the anomalies of his Cabinet Report would not take years to resolve. I would suggest to the Acting Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, that he should take immediate steps to introduce amendments to the Public Service Tribunal when Parliament begins sittings on Oct. 24 to provide for a time period within which the (a) a dispute affecting an anomaly should be referred to the Tribunal after it has been referred to the Government for negotiations under Clause 11; and (b) a time period within which the Tribunal should hand down its decision after it had been referred to it for adjudication.