Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has urged Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to reform the civil service, saying the sector is currently dominated by the Malays due to what he said were policies implemented by former leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"The old argument in favour of a Malay domination of the civil service to counterbalance the Chinese domination of the economy is no longer valid," the DAP leader said.
"This was among the arguments used by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to institutionalise Malay hegemony in the public sector, particularly the civil service," said Ramasamy, adding that there was also "covert racial discrimination" when it came to the prospect of promotions for non-Malays in the public sector.
Ramasamy said there had been a policy of "counterbalancing" Chinese economic dominance by bringing in foreign investors, as well as through the growth of government-linked companies.
"Given the diversification of the economy as to ownership and control, it doesn’t make sense to ensure that the civil service remains completely in the hands of the Malays.
"Such a racial policy cannot be defended anymore, not when the unity government is in power," he said, using the phrase to describe Anwar's coalition government, formed in the aftermath of the general election last year.
Adding that Anwar was aware of the need to break the Malays' monopoly of the civil service, Ramasamy said he did not agree with the excuse that non-Malays shy away from the civil service due to a lack of promotional prospects.
He said the current government must not pay lip service, but instead undo the policies which he said Mahathir had introduced.
"Ideologically, there is no love lost between Anwar and Mahathir, but surely Anwar should not forget that undermining the viciousness of Mahathirism begins by reforming the civil service, among others.
"The reformist agenda under the unity government might be submerged, but with Pakatan Harapan as the anchor, there is no running away from what was promised to the rakyat."