Civil Servants Must Rise To Present-Day Challenges

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KUALA LUMPUR – Civil servants must enhance their knowledge and rise to the challenges of the rapidly changing global landscape, said Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) chairman and former Chief Secretary to the Government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.

With constant scrutiny from the public on the quality of their work and the growing demand from clients, civil servants today could not afford to rest on their laurels, he said.

Instead, they need to improve to perform their jobs fast, efficiently and effectively and, at the same time, the government must emphasise a knowledge-driven civil service.

In an exclusive interview with Bernama in conjunction with the upcoming conference of the Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management (CAPAM), Ahmad Sarji said Malaysia had excellent national transformation policies to spur the country forward, and it was pertinent for civil servants to equip themselves well to complement and make these policies a success.

“The government of the day has got ambitious and correct development plans and has put in place the institutional support. It is up to the civil servants to rise to the challenge.

“For them to do so, they must have the knowledge in the sector that they are dealing with. They must be well-equipped with knowledge and the right kind of training so that they can do their job effectively,” he said.

He said the government had put in place the right measures and policies to boost public sector competitiveness and inculcate the right values in civil servants.

These include setting up the Malaysian Institute of Integrity and revamping the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

During his tenure as the Chief Secretary to the Government, from 1990 to 1996, Ahmad Sarji was instrumental in pushing for reforms and innovation in the public sector, such as implementing the key performance index and encouraging civil servants to embrace ICT in their work.

He had also passionately advocated the culture of quality and productivity in the civil servants.

Ahmad Sarji had also served as CAPAM’s first vice-president in 1994 before being elected as its second president two years later.

On a related issue, Ahmad Sarji suggested the need for a better ‘reward and punishment’ system in the public service as an encouragement for civil servants to rise to the challenges.

He said civil servants who performed exceedingly well should be rewarded while those who were found guilty of flouting rules should be punished severely.

He said that in this aspect, the government could emulate the private sector’s principle in rewarding deserving employees.

“And for those who flout rules and regulations, they should be punished, accordingly, fast. There should be no fear or favour in implementing this,” he added.

CAPAM will be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre from Oct 19 to 21. Themed “Public Service Transformation: A New Conversation”, CAPAM 2014 will gather over 1,000 participants. – BERNAMA