Malaysians are no longer passive and they monitor and judge every move made by civil servants, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He told senior civil servants attending the 16th Civil Servants' Conference at the National Institute of Public Administration or INTAN last Thursday (Oct 20) that "people want a better quality of life. They want the government to provide them with better infrastructure, education, health and to guarantee them long-term peace."
Muhyiddin's advice should also be directed to the executive and the wakil rakyat or members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies.
When talking about the rakyat or citizens, you are referring at the root, that is the electorate. They select or elect the legislature and charging it with the duty of making laws in accordance with their wishes, at least that should be the case.
The Cabinet, that is the Executive, draw up policies for the government. Administering the policies, the actual work of putting them into effect, is the task of the Civil Service. Ideally, the Civil Service must be responsible to Parliament.
Under the British system adopted by Malaysia, the role of the Civil Service is to be a non-party element in party government; to give loyal service and support to the Government of the day, irrespective of that Government's political colour. The higher Civil Servant is free from political interference and unlike his Minister, he cannot be removed from office at the will of the electorate and must refrain from political interference himself. He must, in fact, take no part in political activity.
Civil Servants are the servants of the public, not its masters. The Civil Servant is expected, in his dealings with the people, whether personally or by letter, to show friendliness and strive for understanding.
As Muhyiddin stressed, the government wanted civil servants to be the message of hope to the people. He advised them to hear out people's complaints and find ways to solve them immediately.
The Civil Servant must refrain from personal political activity. He must faithfully carry out the policies of his political chief, whether he agrees with them or not. He must never use his official position to further his own interests. However high he may rise in the Service, his attitude to the public must always be that of a servant, never that of a master.
For all intents and purposes, that should the stance and the roles to be taken and played by ALL civil servants. Unfortunately what have been happening on the ground are:-
1. In states ruled by the oppositions, there are semblance of non-cooperation from the civil servants. Can't blame them as their are appointed by the federal government. UMNO/BN are yet to fully recover from their nightmares arising from the debacles suffered in last GE and continue to taunt the state by exploiting and manipulating the
civil servants. Only the diehards and most principled will dare to stand up. This is far in between.
2. There is still the colonial mentality among some UMNO/BN MPs and ADUN. They think they are the all-powerful and can push the civil servants around. Anyone whom they dislike or does not toe their line will find himself posted out. Even though the cases may not be many but it does not reflect well on the civil servants-MPs/ADUN relationship.
So, TSMY, please listen to your civil servants too.
The english word "civil servant" provide indication that the person work for the public.
In contrast, here in Malaysia, as most are Malay, the word used is "kerja kerajaan" which in direct translation means working for the government.
The actual practice and mindset of the civil servant here in Malaysia is adopting the latter meaning which is "working for the government".
Sometime when we approach the "kerja kerajaan" civil servant with a particular problem, they will say this and that is the instruction from the top and they are just following orders. Sometime they apologize if they cannot assist but sometime they do not even show that they care nor sympathize to the person who are asking for assistance.
Nowadays, the civil servant performance is measured using KPI (Key performance Index) or KRA. Some objectives are given to the civil servant and they will be appraised at the end of the year, their salary will be reflected based on this appraisal.
The problem is that these objectives sometime are not to the benefit of the public.
For instance, in JB, we have a new public library (about 2-3 years). Perhaps the KPI of the manager of the library is to reduce electricity. This is actually good.
However the problem is that, in order to save electricity, the person in charge disable almost all the electrical socket so that user cannot use laptop without the battery. Turn off air-conditioner of the whole floor of the reading section and replacing a fan solely for a librarian and the lift is not working almost a year.
Based on the KPI, the person in charge perform well as he/she manage to save electricity but this is at the expense of the users who have to endure bleeding heat.
Using logic, If the library do not want to turn the air-conditioner, the lift and electrical socket, then why install them in the first place? Whose money is used to install them?
This is an example of the things that we are upset about. I can write a lot more but I am sure we all had experienced these sort of things.
Something need to be done so that the civil servant understand clearly what are their real purpose is and what they should be striving for.
Orang Johor, well said. I cannot disagree with you.
Two episodes came to light where civil servants 'kow-towed' to political pressures or simply apple polishing.
First, a certain state education director gave verbal 'orders' to teachers to support the ruling political party. This was during a by-election. The opposition candidate and her husband are/were teachers. The husband was later transferred to another school.
Second, the ' power grab in Perak' where the nation witnessed high-handed tactics that were employed to seize power, tactics that included the disappearance of the three crucial assembly persons and the blockading of the legislative assembly by the police.
Our Civil Servants are like the the word "love" it (they) only responds to its (their) own command. Recently in the Government Sponsored Golf Club a Tan Sri accidently slipped and fell on the wodden steps linking the 21st and the 22nd hole of the Foresr Nine. He made a scene and took up the matter and complained to the President, who happens to be the KSN, directly underlining that he, the Tan Sri, slipped because of the poor construction and condition of the steps likning the two holes.
Action by the Club was swift. Now we have a State-of-the-Art steps built in that same place.Concrete steps and anti-skid rubber to ensure that no more immortals and mortals slip and fall there.
So you see complains work but the problem is that it is not part of our culture to act if that complain comes from the Rakyat.
I agree with you. Civil servant should not be subjected to any political influence whatsoever. Civil servant should also maintain their neutrality when interacting with parties with different political ideology.
The problem is that in Malaysia, most of the civil servant do not really understand who are they working for.
Most of them have the perception that they are working for the government of the land, therefore to their understanding, it is considered treason to side with the opposition.
This is probably what had happened to those teachers.
It is probably going to take some time for this mindset to change.
I think the civil servants working with the state government that had undergo change of government such as Selangor and Perak probably understood better. They might realized that the government of the land can be replaced and will not be in power in perpetuity.
Perhaps, it might occur to those civil servants that the one that have the power to replace the government are the real master, the one that cast the vote.
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