By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Monday, 4.1.1982:
Call on Public Services Department to feed the Prime Minister’s advice to use ‘common sense’ and not be guided by rigid and inflexible application of regulations which cause hardships.
Recently, the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, called on government servants to have three ‘senses’, including common sense. Unfortunately, it would appear that the Prime Minister’s advice had fallen on deaf ears, and administrators are guided by blind, rigid and inflexible application of government regulations which cause hardship and are patently ridiculous.
A school-teacher, Puan Tay Kee Hoon, who had been teaching at the Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan Chung Hwa in Kota Bahru, Kelantan, was informed in March last year that she was to retire on 9.1.1982. However, the Education Department records had mistakenly recorded her date of birth as 9.1.1927, when it should be 21.5.28 as supported by her birth certificate and identity card.
Based on her correct date of birth, Puan Tay Kee Hoon’s retirement should begin 16 months later, on 20.5.1983 and not 9.1.1982.
Repeat attempts by Puan Tay Kee Hoon to draw the attention of the Education Department and Ministry to the mistake had been in vain, and despite complying with the Education Department’s directive that she submit statutory declarations and make a formal appeal, Puan Tay Kee Hoon had been told by the Education Ministry that she must retire on 9.1.1982. The Ministry of Education told Puan Tay Kee Hoon that according to service regulations, a person who wishes to correct her service record mistakes must do so five years before the retirement date.
This is most ridiculous explanation, for Puan Tay Kee Hoon did not know of the mistake in her service record until she was initially informed in March last year of her premature retirement.
A great injustice is being done, and I do not believe that it would cause great governmental inconvenience or dislocation if such a mistake is corrected, and Puan Tay allowed to teach until her correct retirement dates.
I understand that there are many such cases, and this is a test of whether the government service is operated with common sense, or run blindly on government regulations even where they create most ridiculous situations like this one.