August 12, 2016

Why I Became a Government Servant?

Jata Negara

Why I Became a Government Servant?

There are reasons why some people prefer to work in government. The attractive selling point is that working for the government is steady and secure, especially when economic times are tough. The government offers average salaries that are considered competitive with the corporate sector and the pay can also increase fairly quickly for top candidates with strong education and experience. There are also other reasons; health benefits, retirement schemes, training and annual leaves that are extremely competitive with, if not superior to the private sector.

Although you’re not likely to become extraordinarily wealthy on your government salary as compared to the corporate sector, many people, including me, would think that working under the government is the preferred alternative.

After graduating from University of Malaya back in 1976, I received several job offers from the Government agencies. Being young and naive back then, the best job to me was the one with the highest pay. Most of us make this mistake early on in life, so don’t worry you’re not alone on this.

Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP) was the first semi-government agency I ever worked for. Not many know this but for the purpose of putting some sense into the younger generation that focuses on cashing in their degree at an early stage, I’m telling you don’t be na├»ve like how I was.

After a couple of years earning an earnest RM1200 per month which was an extra RM120 from the other job offer, I began to question myself in terms of job perspective. Being the patriotic kind since my school days and living as a ‘kampung boy’, I always dreamt of having a job where I’m able to contribute to the nation. A job that can have an impact to the country I lived in, a job that could offer me satisfaction.

I decided to look for another job that met my needs and by needs I don’t mean monetary. I accepted a new job offer, a researcher in Socioeconomic Research of the Prime Minister's Department, which came at a lower salary than what I used to get at DPB.

I remember many of my friends congratulating me and smiling at me with cynical faces. But it didn’t bother me, becoming a field researcher where the findings of the research will be used as inputs for policy formulation and planning for the nation’s development plan, I felt this new job suited me and will offer me the job satisfaction I craved.

The aspiration that I’ve always kept in my heart is that I must like the job, enjoy doing it professionally and perform the best that I can.

My days serving the Government was not all smooth sailing and laid back like what most people assume it to be. The biggest challenge I faced was being stuck in a time scale officer position (N41 as it is called now or executive position in the corporate sector), for close to 15 years despite having Ph.D qualification.

I was not eligible to be promoted simply because I was not a PTD officer (M41). But that didn’t discourage me from continuing to serve the Government as I liked my profession, the knowledge, skills and professionalism that have been nurtured really helped me in preparing my Ph.D dissertation.

The scenario changed after I was posted to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and with the proven track record of the various works I’ve done, I was among the earliest few officers seconded to Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Negara (MTEN) which became the focal-point of the nation economic management. I was then converted to a PTD scheme and promoted to a senior position.

It was a big relief to me as the additional income from the promotion can be spent for a family with 3 growing children and I was able to send some money to my parents in ‘kampung’ which in those days was considered a must.

Again the good track record, the high performance and high reputation paid-off when I was promoted to a Senior Director after I left MTEN, another promotion after 1⅟2 years as a Deputy Secretary General and 4 months later I was appointed as Secretary General, the number one position in one of the Ministries.

Dr Muzahet menerima Surat Perlantikan sebagai Ketua Setiausaha
Dr Muzahet received an appointment letter as Secretary-General, Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage (KPKKW) from Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek Hassan, Chief Secretary to the Government of Malaysia, Convention Center, Putrajaya, April 2008

The moral of the story, everything needs money but money is not everything. Choose the profession that suites you, nurture your interest and enhance your knowledge and skills to become a professional in your field and prove your high performance.

Job satisfaction is what keeps your job interesting and when you enjoy what you’re doing I believe you’ll be doing a great job. Frankly speaking, the benefits won’t be immediate, but believe me, it pays-off in the future.

Writen by: Dr.Muzahet Masruri.  Ph.D (Economics), University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.