Ali Hamsa to be chief secretary once Sidek retires on June 23
KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Senior civil servant Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamsa is to be named Chief Secretary to the Government next week, replacing the urbane Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan who is retiring from office on June 23 after three annual extensions since his appointment on September 3, 2003.
The 57-year-old Ali is director-general of the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS) in the Prime Minister’s Department. He and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Ir Dr Zaini Ujang were widely tipped to replace Sidek.
“Ali Hamsa is to be the new KSN,” a source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the post by its Bahasa Malaysia initials for Ketua Setiausaha Negara.
In 2009, the career civil servant was named the first director-general of UKAS, which has been credited with doubling the private sector’s annual target in 2011 where it jumped past its RM30 million target to more than RM65 million.
It is understood that Ali jumped over several senior civil servants, including Public Service Department (PSD) director-general Tan Sri Abu Bakar Abdullah to be the country’s top civil servant. Abu Bakar, whose department was blamed for disparate pay rises for civil servants early this year, is expected to leave government service soon.
The Malaysian Insider has also learnt that Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah has been given a three-month extension after his official retirement date in late May.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been extending the service of senior civil servants ahead of seeking his personal mandate since assuming office in April 2009. A general election is only due in mid-2013 but there has been mounting speculation of snap polls since last year.
The Malaysian Insider has reported that a general election is being considered in November after the Budget 2013 announcement and the Haj season.
“Keeping civil servants in their job past their retirement age is to ensure continuity. But with Ali Hamsa’s appointment, it could mean a delay in polls until he gets a hang of the job,” said a government source, saying the new chief secretary has to take charge and oversee administration and allocations approved to lawmakers this week.
Ali was previously the deputy director-general of the National Transformation and Advancement Programme, Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Universiti Malaya in 1979, where he worked briefly as a tutor for two years. He then joined the civil service in 1981, rising from assistant director, International Trade Division in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) until 1985 before becoming a programme co-ordinator in the Institute of Public Administration (INTAN) from 1986 to 1992. He then assumed several senior posts in various ministries and the Prime Minister’s Department.
Ali also graduated with a Master in Science (Economics) from Oklahoma State University, the United States in 1986 and a Ph.D in Environmental Economics in 1997 from the same university.
The Chief Secretary to the Government, in the past, had been in sourced from various agencies with Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali promoted to the post 20 days after he was named as the Foreign Ministry secretary-general in 1996.
Tan Sri Sallehuddin Mohamed was the EPU director-general before serving as the chief secretary from mid-1984 to January 31, 1990.
The Pekan-born Sidek also came from MITI where he was the secretary-general before being made chief secretary. The current retirement age for civil servants is 60 but it is understood that the government will offer Ali a minimum two-year contract for the top civil service post.