JITRA – As Cuepacs president Azih Muda spoke of possible action against civil servants involved in the anti-Goods and Services Tax (GST) rally at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur today, a former senior government servant lambasted him for making such a threat.
To Azih's statement that they could be considered traitors to the government and do not deserve to be called civil servants, former Transport Ministry secretary- general Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said only the Public Service Department (PSD) has the authority to do so.
Navaratnam said any action against the protesters would be wrong as it is their constitutional right to do so.
Speaking to reporters after the Civil Servants Workers' Day celebration at Dewan Wawasan, here, today, Azih said civil servants involved in the gathering had violated the "Akujanji" and Service Pledge that they had made.
"I have stated before that civil servants must not get involved in any gathering against the government as they had taken the oaths…so whether they like it or not, they must abide by the rules. If they are dissatisfied and wish to take part in such a gathering, they should leave the public sector.
"We aim to make Malaysia a developed nation but such protest gatherings can derail the plan," Bernama quoted him as saying.
"The prime minister has always opened doors for Cuepacs to voice our needs and woes, and there have been solutions to help us cope with rising costs and to see what more needs to be done in the public sector. "
Navaratnam said Azih had seemingly assumed a strong political stance in the issue, which he felt was unbefitting of a civil servant who is duty bound to maintain a professionally neutral stance.
He said civil servants have every right to participate in a legitimate and lawful assembly that conforms to their principles.
"As Malaysian citizens, they have a right to adhere to their principles and exert their human rights; if they feel like attending an assembly that is legal, they should," he said.
Meanwhile, former Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam agreed that it was civil servants' basic human right to participate in an assembly.
"The right to assemble is stated in the Federal Constitution, and I don't see any problems for them to participate in the rally as long as there's no violence," he said.