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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Leader and his civil service


I am afraid, I am not finished yet on the subject of the Malay mind. You see, the e mail from the 65 year old Malay gentleman is such a fertile ground for discussion and commentaries. After this, I shall expand on an e mail I received from a retired Chinese gentleman from Johor Bharu who has offered some interesting personal observations.
I am disturbed that some people see these serialised articles as opening the doors for Malay bashing. I cannot accept that argument. I think, if these article have done that, they have the unintended effect of allowing us Malays, know what non Malays think of us. We can look at them in a positive manner. I'd rather know what my opponent is thinking rather than not knowing.
Here is another gloss from the Malay gentleman's e mail.
Picking winners.
Sometime in 1994, Lee Kuan Yew spoke about the 'Singapore way' of picking winners. Singapore willed a system whereby invariably the best come forward to serve the country. It seems that it has worked in Singapore. Its economy is the strongest in this part of the world. Its civil service is considered one of the best. It has so many success stories that are attributable to its leadership and efficient administration. The best and brightest lead and manage the country.
In the early years, Lee Kuan Yew was reported to have said, that the fate of Singapore depended on around 250 people. That if these 250 people were to be put on a plane and the plane exploded, that would be the end of Singapore. The difference between success and failure is therefore leadership and management quality of the country.
I won't say, the same system can be transplanted elsewhere en bloc. How do we ensure the leadership of this country and management is entrusted in the hands of good people, determined, possessed of integrity and drive to run this country? Do we leave it to chance hoping that out of 26 million people, some good people will emerge? Or can we devise and put up a system, raising the probabilities that good people will emerge and let it be part of our country's DNA?
A long time ago, external stimuli- fight against colonialism, struggles against oppression, fights for independence enabled the emergence of leaders by natural selection. Yet nowadays, the external stimuli do not exist so as to allow the emergence of natural leaders. The attrition rate is simply too high. So it seems we can't let chance and fortuitous events determine the emergence of leaders. If we can't, then, we have to find a system.
It would seem that having a system is better than leaving everything to chance and hoping. It must be a system, where through a process, and not leaving things to chance and luck of the draw, something good can be induced to come forward. Such a system, if desired needs to be moderated, adjusted it need be.
But what Lee Kuan Yew mentioned about the Singapore system becoming the conventional way of choosing winners in the future, was the point that has somehow proven to be prescient. The wisdom of putting up with a system is now credible thinking.
What's the Singapore way? It's not something proprietary so , we can save our breath and not shout out a xenophobic objection to anything Singapore. I know for some people , mention anything Singapore can stir up demented responses. Let us be rational for a moment. It became Singapor-ised because, political will was applied to the process. The top leadership wanted it that way. So if Malaysia has the political will, it becomes the Malaysian way.
Just last week, our PM was saying something to the effect of wanting the best to surface in the civil service- about creating an ecosystem. So, we can also say, the top leadership wants it. His wish must be followed by a political will, reflected in the principles, polices, and choice of the people leading and managing this country. How? Will it be achieved by just imagining it, or will come about as a result of a deliberate and calculative action?
It must be a process. It must begin, by laying the foundations that ensure, on a higher probability, that good people will emerge. It must be system that incorporate the principle of rewarding those with better intelligence and ability, better. If those with lesser accomplishments are rewarded the same as those with better abilities, the system breaks down. Because then, those with better and superior abilities will not enter the system. That can happen, when we manoeuvre the system to override objective considerations and condone excessive interference.
We tweaked the system the wrong way allowing those with lower abilities to come forward. Instead of excellence which the PM desires, we are saddled with mediocrity. Why? Then we have those cunning characters, those who cut corners, those whose vocation is to be the man Fridays to superiors, rise to the top. We then have a civil service dominated by talent deficient people.
As it is, something must be terribly wrong with the elements of that foundation , if something such as that happening in Penang recently, where a senior government servant can speak ill of an elected head of the government. That such a character if representative of the civil service as a whole exists, then it would mean, really, the civil service can be potentially insubordinate. The elected political leadership cannot operate with an insubordinate civil service or even with a public servant that appear to be insubordinate. The immediate solution is to demand the resignation of such a person.
The distinguished general who headed the American theater of war in Afghanistan was asked to retire because of unflattering remarks the general made of the US Vice President. The general is seen to be insubordinate- but the US president knows he can't operate the government with this kind of character.
The SDO ( state development officer) is probably among the top five civil servants at the state level- behind the SS, SFINO, SDO, etc etc. He oversees the award of federal projects in the state and by virtue of being the representative of the federal government in a state controlled by an opposition party, must have felt at par with the CM. He thinks he can act as a government within a government.
Lim Guan Eng is an elected head of the government of the day. It does not matter whether he is a federal civil servant or sate civil servant- he is bound by the conventional practice of governance. That some civil servant can come out in open defiance to an elected leader reflects the failure of our ecosystem in turning out the best. Instead it has produced some of the haughtiest employee given strength by an officious position.
Several years ago, Nazri Aziz was embroiled in a verbal fracas with a top officer of the BPR( now MACC). Nazri went ballistic and public by saying, we, the politicians are your masters. We don't like the way he said it, but he was right in the sense, political leaders are elected and in that sense are owed obedience and deference.
Would such a behaviour be tolerated if it were an UMNO head of government that was shamed? The civil servant would be transferred within 24 hours. Not so long ago, Khir Toyo presented a senior civil servant( he must also be a MCS officer) with a broom which to the Malay is sial. The civil servant didn't say Khir Toyo was biadab in public. In private, I am sure Khir Toyo was roundly denounced. Not a murmur from the Chief Secretary to the government then. Now we the CS defending the actions of this particular civil servant.
How is this narration related to the issue of a system or a process that sieve through the dirt so that pebbles of gold will remain? Because the quality of the person coming out, depends on the process. Obviously, if this kind of character rises to the top, then something is fundamentally wrong with the ecosystem prevailing over the civil service. Obviously to my mind, something is wrong to have allowed this kind of civil servant to emerge and rise to the top of his profession.
We have 1.2 million civil servants serving 26 million people. Out of every 26 people, one is a civil servant. What's their primary purpose? Their primary function is how to make our lives better by way of the service they give us, the way they treat at the counters, the way they manage the country's assets which we entrust them to do. They are here to improve the lives of people, not to make us feel miserable. The general feeling when one deals with civil servants nowadays, is that it seems we owe them a living- they what they are giving us, is their own property.
Why do we need 1.2 million civil servants in the first place. Make some comparisons. Taiwan, with a population similar to us at 28 million, has only 530,000 government employees. That's about half of what we have. Japan with a 120 million population employs 380,000 civil servants. This means, the average Jap civil servant is brainy and productive. Malaysia has 1.2 million civil servants who provide us with dismal service most of the times, and their offices are dreary and gloomy places of work.
The character of the Malaysian civil service is this. Haughty at the top and mediocre at the lower levels. But no one politician has the guts to say our civil service is rotten. We should now bring back a minister in charge of the civil service, tasked of revamping the service and raising the quality of our civil servants. We should immediately take steps to halve the number of civil servants. It shouldn't be employment for employment sake anymore.

52 comments:

Pak Zawi 27 July 2010 at 07:00  

Dato' Sak,
When we went into the frenzy of privatization of Government agencies I thought we were on the way to reducing the size of the civil servants. It didn't seem to be the case as the size has almost doubled up since then. From my observation, if the government halve the workforce, the efficiency will remain the same as only half of them seems to be working most of the time. Efficiency could then be improved by rewarding those who work hard instead of adding more staff just to create jobs.

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 07:04  

create a Khairy like situation for all government post.

Ketua Pemuda takes care of party affair. Just because he won it, does not mean that he should be in government.

Same goes for vice presidents, MT and other BN leaders..with so many component party, the government is full of idiots from these parties...

People like Hishamuddin hussein, Muhyddin Yassin as education minister, Zahid as defence, JJ as US ambassador, samy vellu as future ambassador??, Ng Yen Yen, Rais Yatim all tak LAYAK get these jobs...

They themselves dont know what they saying n doing...No Vision at all...Just commenting on day to day problem...What these bunch achieved?? Nothing much...

Despite what UMNO saying abt Tan Sri Khalid, we Selangor ppl feel he is doing better job than khir toyo n muhammad taib done before + being more honest, less corrupt or no corruption unlike Khir Toyo banglos ...

Why should we bring back UMNO into selangor if they will cancel 20m3 water, cancel the new Freedom of Information Act, cancel open tenders, support back corrupt water companies in Selangor and raise up water bills again...

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 07:09  

No need look at singapore only, just look at USA, do you think Obama will become Treasury secretary like what Najib is as Finance Minister....???

Obama appoints competent person to head his ministries and departments and not necessarily party members unlike malaysia ...here all full of Idiots, blur case, Bodoh Sombong and corrupt bastards...

Just look and hear at the way these Ministers talk makes us feel like want to Puke. Malaysia can never beat Singapore if still behaving like an African country...

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 07:15  

Speaking of Africa, why there are many Africans in Malaysia??? They coming in with so called joining private college, but dont go study....doing all sort of Illegal business here....

Even when Malaysians dont have cars and riding bikes, Africans here driving Toyota Vios and Proton Waja. This country is a joke. can Police start tackle this problems and stop doing nonsense cases like RPK, Rosli Dahlan and Anwar Ibrahim ?

In Cheras and kajang area esp, we are unhappy to see drunk Africans loitering in Condos that being rent by them and disturbing local ppl....What is Home Minister doing?>???

Bahlul...

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 08:44  

schenker78,
here in malaysia, public civil service not working for the people of malaysia. Don't forget, they working for 'KERA'jaan in Malaysia, mean that only 'KERA-KERA' which been elected by some "monyet" to tackle the goverment issue. We as the rakyat is to open up our mouth and swallow all "taik" from those elected politician @ politaik. Jangan marah, if i told you, blogsphere was amongst these politaik to promote their interest value. So keep on baca but don't put all your faith here. Baca for fun, since this is a new media. New thing look better isn't..

Quiet Despair,  27 July 2010 at 08:56  

For a small nation like us, we sure have a bloated civil service of more than 1 million workers.
Some are passengers, floaters, drift-woods waiting for year-end bonus, pensions and gratutites.
And the government is thinking of extending their retirement age to 60s.
Of course those who are nearing pension, will continue to run on the Government gravy train.
No problem man, carry on another two years. After all the kids have left the nest.
With a paperless bureaucracy, the government easily can rid half of them.
Walk into any government office, and you will see this habits amnog some government workers especially the women clerks.
8.15 am punch card. Look over some files or log on computer.
8.30 go up and down floors, distributing Avon, Amway, Cosway or any MLM catalogues. Send the prior orders.
Collect kutu money. Also deliver orders of cup cakes, kuehs, kerepeks, what have you.
Just look into their cubicles and pantries, it's like a mini grocery shop stocking all kinds of everything for sale.
10am Go for coffee break.
10.15 to 12 do some typing, go for meetings or yakety-yak on the phone.
12.30 Repair make-up to go for lunch.
After lunch, type a bit, chat on the fone, carry files.
4.05 repair make-up and wait downstairs for hubby to fetch them.
Friday 12 noon- 2.30 - Buat rombongan for shopping at Sogo.
Have a nice, long lunch and catch up on gossips.
What a good life on our money.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 08:59  

Dato,
I like this post cos you have finally touched on the uncouth and inefficient civil service.

The Malay civil service (which is a more fitting description of what we have today) has no more ethics and dedication to its profession. It is unMalay at best.

It acts as an extension of UMNO. The top man are arrogant, snobbish and proud. Sometimes you can't even get to meet them in person.

How often can you find the person you want at his desk? He is more often in the canteen or warong. If he is on leave then we are good as dead as no one else will attend to you..."Dis cuti. Balik miggu depan"

The government allows this as it sees the civil service an another fixed deposit.

Now compare this with the "Chinese civil service" in Singapore.
Shame on you MCS!!!

yoong 27 July 2010 at 09:09  

with 1.2 million civil servants , we havent add in those in glc yet? take a stone and throw we hit 3 of these ! i went to immigratin at putra jaya to renew my wife visa we waited from 9 am till 4 40 pm .we find empty chairs and room as we were told " ada meeting? the touts were doing a better job then them ! this is one horror movie f a failed country ! what about trying r i m v petlaing jaya? we saw 4 staff at the counter while another bunch at teh tarik shop ?

Navi 27 July 2010 at 09:22  

Dato',

How could we ever practice selecting the best brains. Most leaders of the component parties in BN believe in not admitting anyone smarter than them, in case they are challenged. This is especially true at both branch and divisional levels.
Some leaders do not like to be questioned and anyone found doing would be immediately removed.
Smart professionals in Malaysia would rather not join any political party; just for these reasons.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 09:51  

Dato,

‘…our PM was saying something to the effect of wanting the best to surface in the civil service..’

Before such outcome can be realized, there MUST be a REAL house-keeping - 1st among the civil services from federal to states, then the GLCs, then the general Joe M’sians.

But this management blood-letting among these ‘elite’ Malay M’sians will kill umno instantaneously!

A generation of NEP implementation has bred a lot of 2nd bests, nincompoops, know-whos, tidak-apa-ists, type4 scums within these organizations. They r also structurally layered back-to-back - thus the phenomenon of the little napoleons. There will not be any little napoleons iff there is NO condoning masters, yes? Why r there condoning masters – simply because the system feed onto itself – the current masters were little napoleons themselves, while on their way up.

Meanwhile the ‘able-handed’ M’sians r been shut out from the system – either through glass-ceiling &/or disgusts. No lost for them too as they find bigger & more satisfied achievements outside this 'egosystem'.

In another word, the current govt has no vision to prepare for the well-being of the future M’sia – because its current set-up is to ‘make hay while the sun shines’. Remember this - "Eh! Esok kalau Melayu dah jahanam, anak bini aku nak makan apa?" So the little napoleons knew the whole scheme of things, just like the master – lead by example, indeed!

So, political will is needed, a VERY STRONG one too.

But on the current SOPO scene in bolihland, umno will not have that will, while the leadership of najib is full of ‘packages’. He has to make compromises to keep his ‘cares’ in rope. In fact, there is already rumblings that najib has to go the way of pak lah. Read the growing questionings of his 1Malaysia idea?

More so when u already have a group of people, having tasted the fruits of tongkat-instituted easy life, WILL NOT want to care & change – everything is NOW & enjoy.

Future? What future? In Argentina ranch or UK, OZ or NZ countrysides?

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 10:13  

You have been delivering bad news to Malay albeit with the right goal to make things better for them. I hate to do this to you but there is more bad news with this piece:

A civil service is like humpty dumpty - once its broken, all the kings horses and all the kings men can't put it back together again.

A civil service is like judicial system or enforcement agency like the police - its not so easy to fix back together again and even with great pain some success, its never the same again. What makes a good civil service is more than just one or two things - its more than just system, its also a culture, tradition, personality and talent.

So all the suggestion you give to get BN to fix it? - its never going to work, it will never happen.

Fact is, UMNO/BN has to go to fix it. That is a given like it or not.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 10:19  

Sak,
It's not too late to size down the pen pushers in the Civil services as we have computerisation in this era!All duplicated work is being done and just imagine the PM dept requiring 45000 personels for what?And mind you the additional 12 billions funding and just maintaining salaries of 3.9 billion?
Look at the extra hospitals we could afford if we size down!
Does the PM wants such glorification or he still thinks he is going to be GOD of this country?
If the top is rotten off course down the line it will disintegrates!
Sometimes we can assume those in power are using their numskull head just for growing hairs and not thinking straight!
If the PM can be wasteful and not prudent should we carry on paying our taxes?

Kharma

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 10:24  

Dato', We have too many mediocre and you know how these people make it to the top in this nation. Feeling hopeless, just look at the current CS, if you care to search on his background and experience then you will be taken for a surprise and wonder how he was selected to the post. And many more of the same kind! And do you think PM has the political will? I am doubtful. With the bashing going on and suddenly a name was touted to be the next CS, and sorry sir, look like another mediocre is ready to move in.
Apa lah yang di harapkan Dato'... abis camno nak biarkan aje ke, any way all the best to you sir!!!

Sideline,  27 July 2010 at 10:50  

Dato Sak,

It is not the government is not aware of the problem i.e. bloated government staff, but the "political ingenuity" to short-cut the solution perhaps to reduce the unemployment could be the driving force.

The problem will not go away in foreseen future because of the complexity of the problem. Not unless the present government wants to commit suicide.

However, there are few short term solutions which perhaps the government can undertake:-
1. More active redeployment government staff.
2. Cut overseas trip spending by 50% for purpose of study tour or accompany Ministers. Imagine how much money can be save here.
3. Publish the KPI of individual department on internet on monthly basis. Allow public complain to be centralized and monitored by central body.
4. Some of the high level government servants may be accorded Dato title and watnot. As long they are in Government service, they are simply to be addressed as Encik until they leave office. There are too many bigheaded government officers that flaunt their titles around instead of focusing to serve the public.

If they can't undertake the above simple solutions, the public can't imaging they undertaking more drastic actions to improve their service.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 11:17  

I believe the Ministers are circumventing the civil service by bringing & creating special teams ala fourth floor.

These young guys;hand picked by the Ministers are then given high level rankings in the Civil Service hierarchy.They're well educated,articulate and have some Industry exposure & basically have been imbibed with a more proactive work culture.

But,the risk was the fall outs often referred to as the 4th Floor Syndrome.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 11:35  

schenker78, betul cakap u. apa yang home minister boleh buat ngan mamat2 afrika ni? nak lambai keris kecilnya? this country is a joke la.

loveMyKris

a.z 27 July 2010 at 11:37  

It boils down to "culture" isn't it? Not the dancing and twirling type of culture charged to the Minister from Jelebu but a culture of thinking and doing.

Civil servant "think" they're our master and thus "do" as we found them doing. Well, maybe not all are rotten but certainly a majority of the unthinking types.

If leaders of any organization be it private or gov. starts identifying that culture and behaviours which are so detrimental to growth and development and weed them out one by one maybe some good will happen.

Leaving it to chance, what do the low ranking officers - those who interact with the public - understand by "ecosystem", "KPI", "performance first", etc

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 11:42  

Dato we know for a fact that the civil service should be a balanced one but in our bolehland it belongs to one an only one race and that is where the cancer started from.I am not bashing the malay's just that if the civil service was balanced we would not be having problems as in the old day's the malays would watch over the chinese who in turn would watch the indians thus creating a check n balance atmosphere.Trust me Dato this system worked till the day the great mamakutty destroyed it all and if you would ask him now he would say did I.

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 11:44  

kenapa orang ini tidak tahu protokol....

lihat gambar...

http://darisungaiderhaka.blogspot.com/2010/07/siapa-perdana-menteri-ni-rosmah-atau.html

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:13  

"and their offices are dreary and gloomy places of work".

the above is not applicable to offices in Putrajaya. Their offices are lavish anytime better than those in the private sector...

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:24  

Dato',

Well said but don't you think that the changes should take place first within the political party and then followed with the civil service. As it is now, there are too many interferences from the political party to suit their needs. The mentality within civil service is 'I am here to spare my time and collect my gaji buta', that's why they couldn't care less what standard of service to provide. Government dept like JPJ, NRD has more booths CLOSED than open! Its always bfast, lunch & breaks which are more important to them than serving the public. They will come in late but MUST always leave on time.

Namza

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:32  

As usual your posting is frank and hurting... to some.

Not the best people on the job is what facing Malaysia today.

The best or near best are helping Singapore to be what she is today.

Just wonder, which part is performing well under our own kind?

Bad things and poor performance we read almost everyday and not a single one in power admits but still trying to avoid the truths.

In short a country cannot be run by just one race. The whole country's human resources need to be tapped in full. To do this, all must understand each other rather than "Ibrahim Alis" us all.
Without him , we are already in problems. With him and still continue to spit venoms, we are going faster still.

Even God cannot help us now.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:42  

Wow Dato,
Your commentary is getting more and more thought-provoking, prestinely and succintly right to the point, touching the very depth of our hearts' grouses with the civil service state of affairs.

If your blog can touch the emotions and feelings of those concerned Malaysians living thousands of miles away in the USA, surely your voice will be heard by those in the corridors of power of the UMNO government..... unless of course they choose to be audio-impaired and wear blinkers on their ears.

So hear! hear!...... sock it to them Dato..... your blogsite will reach its hightest hits ever!!!!
Carry on and be fearless in your sharing of thoughts..... and trust they come deep from your chambers of your heart.

SALAM.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:42  

Dato Sak,

Talking about the civil service in Malaysia? read here what one prominent Malay blogger (Din Merican) commented on his blog:

http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/chief-secretary-nik-ali-baba-and-malaysian-civil-service/#comment-57542

"....There is no such a thing as civil neutrality in the present set up and that is why our government is dysfunctional. I have nothing more to add on this matter except to say without sounding racist the Malay dominated civil service is a disgrace. We need to open up and attract the best brains into the civil service. Take the case of Singapore. Just compare Sidek with the Head of Singapore Civil Service, for example.

Today, we have become the laughing stock of the region and our civil servants cannot converse in English at regional and international conferences. The Indonesians, Singaporeans,Thais, Bruneians, and the Filipinos are ahead of us. The Cambodians, Laotians, Vietnamese and the Burmese are going to overtake us, give or take a few years from now.
–Din Merican"

PH Chin 27 July 2010 at 12:49  

Dato'

Yes, I agree absolutely that our civil service is bloated and inefficient compared to our neighbours.

Indeed, we have much to learn from Taiwan, Singapore and Japan in setting up a system that can attract the best brains into the civil service.

The question is, do our PM has the political will to push through the civil service reform, as there are potentially 1.2 millions votes at stake.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 12:53  

Dato Sak,

Well articulated. Seems like you are the only UMNO member who really understands what's truly happening to this country and bringing about it's downfall.

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 13:07  

lets see what taib been doing in OXFORD...

'since not many British went to see Taib speak, did Taib import whole cronies to come with him in a full load plane and enjoy in UK??'

Live – Protest in Oxford as Taib Mahmud arrives

1837: One eye-witness observes of the delegates: “(Almost) everyone looks Malaysian. Very odd!”

1811: The protesters are holding up placards bearing messages such as ‘Any forest left?’, ‘Stop denying Penan rape’, ‘Don’t halt EU-Malaysia anti-illegal logging deal’, and ‘Declare your wealth’.

1800: Taib Mahmud has entered the conference hall. He must have used a side-entrance and given the demonstrators the slip. The protesters are unable to enter the hall due to prohibitive conference registration fees: 1,000 pounds sterling plus VAT per person. For groups of three or more, it is 880 pounds plus VAT per person. Way too expensive for the common folks.

The protesters are from assorted groups; they are mostly individuals concerned about various issues. Says one British activist: “We want to make people in the UK and around the world aware and to let them know that there are people who care about the Penan. It is completely unacceptable that under Taib’s administration, much of the forest has been given to plantations and dams. The Penan have the right to their land.”

1725: Those at the conference are now waiting for Taib Mahmud. Protesters are gathered at the two entrances. His car is now moving around the area.

1714: There are protesters, mostly British, joined by a couple of Malaysians. The Malaysian delegates to the conference are walking into the venue in small groups.

1651: Protesters have gathered at the entrance to the Said Business School, according to a source. Reporters are also present. Malaysian officials are looking a bit lost, unable to stop the protest.

The protest is against the School’s decision to invite Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to deliver a special address at the opening of a two-day forum, organised by the Said Business School of Oxford University and backed by Malaysian corporations.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 13:45  

Dato,

You should know consciously why there is 1.2m civil servants. If it is reduced, the FD will also reduce like in Putrajaya where 95% of the electorate are civil servants.
If the nos. are reduced, who do you think will be out of a job ? You will have Ibrahim Ali shouting Shit,Shit Shit.
Like it or not, it is a problem by the bumis that can only be solved by the bumis.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 15:19  

The bright kids are streamed into science classes, the less bright kids streamed into arts classes.

The bright kids eventually graduate as doctors, engineers, rocket scientists, and even economists.

The not-so-bright and the "refuse-to-be-bright" kids,"prefer-to-remain dumb" kids eventually morphed into civil servants like Tan Sri Sidek (head of the dumb class), politicians like Hishamuddin, Khalid Ibrahim (heads of the dim-witted class).

Like Malaysia, Singapore also inherited the olde British-style administration and rule..but Lee Kuan Yew realised early that mustn't be allowed to continue.

Poor Malaysia and Malaysians remain to suffer fools.

schenker78 27 July 2010 at 15:45  

umno menuju kehancuran...

http://www.malaysia-today.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=33357:is-umno-in-self-implosion-mood&catid=18:letterssurat&Itemid=100129

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 16:51  

Assalamualaikum Dato Sak,

You hear of this proverb that fish is always rotten from the head, no?

A country, like a tree, must produce a fruit that is sweet and tasty. The seed is good - tercampak ke bumi menjadi bukit, tercampak ke laut menjadi pulau.

But if the system that produce the tree is not functioning as it should (ie letting unqualified nincompoop from becoming leaders), you get inferior fruit. And the seed cannot propagate... And in the global jungle, it will be taken over by other trees. Brutal, but that's the fact of life.

The malay bashing is necessary sometimes to go through some people's think neanderthalic skull. Their honey was given via NEP - now, let's wake these people up. There's not much time left - the train has left the station, and these people is still sleeping at home, dreaming.

Melayu Baru

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 16:59  

Dato' Sak,
Well said! We all knew all along these problems existed for the past BN yrs since Dr M's era. Todate none of the ruling BN leaders willing to step forward to hit the nail in the coffin. In our opinion Najib knew pretty well though but dare not drastically cut the 1.2 million civil servants by half due to the fact that they are BN's vote bank. A simple calculation reveal that each civil servant's family consist of at least 4 votes, multiply by 1.2 million & you will safely get close to 5 million votes. Therefore no matter how bad the civil service standard, BN leaders will still defend them under its payroll till eternity!
There is no such thing as "Singapore way" to achieve success. It is just meritocracy, meaning the best person wins the job. It is being practised in many developed countries lah!
Currently there isn't any political will in correcting the deplorable state that we are in, Msia will continue to deteriorate in next few years. And yet we were painted with "high income & developed nation" bubble dream by 2019. We rather believe more in what Idris Jala's truth than those ruling sly hypocrties

Cikgu Ngah,  27 July 2010 at 17:37  

Assalamualaikum Dato'.

Saya bersetuju benar dgn apa yg Dato kata ttg civil service di negara kita. Ianya sudah menjadi suatu birokrasi yg terlalu besar dan membebankan negara. Negara kita kini umpama Dinasti Ching di zaman Empress Dowager yg mempunyai terlalu ramai pegawai, tapi semuanya incompetent, corrupted and useless.
Baru-baru ini KSN keluar pekeliling kata semua permintaan dari ahli politik mesti direkodkan dan dinilai berasaskan merit. Tapi kita lupa bukan ahli politik saja yg suka bagi recommendation dan surat sokongan, tapi senior civil servants juga buat begitu. Saya dengar cerita ttg seorang TKSU di sebuah kementerian yg minta RM 30,000 untuk luluskan satu-satu kontrak. Apakah mereka ini lagi besar daripada ahli politik, malahan lagi tinggi daripada undang-undang negara?

Nampaknya dah terlalu ramai Little Napoleon dan Sir Humphrey Appleby dalam perkhidmatan awam kita. Malangnya tak ada ahli politik yg mempunyai keberanian utk mengubah sistem yg telah rosak dan punah ini. Kesannya, mereka jugalah yg dihukum rakyat dalam pilihanraya. Benarlah bak kata Jim Hacker: "In the private industry, if you screw things up, you get the boot. In the civil service, if you screw things up, I get the boot!"

Terima kasih.

zorro 27 July 2010 at 17:40  

Datuk Sak, I had no choice but to feature this article in my inaugural TUESDAYS' MUST READ. Thank you for putting so much into your writings.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 18:43  

Dato' Sak,

The policy of "Operasi Isi Penuh"
in the 1970'by Tun Hussien Onn is to assist more Malay Civil Servant into the Government was well received and understood. But then most of the civil was educated in English medium and the leadership was efficient and openness existed.
What happened now is that, most civil servant can't even communicate well in English but proud as well."Saya ni Pegawai Kerajaan". Konon Raja. Not Goverment Servant. To help and assist Rakyat. This is the kind of attitude of Civil servant you see today.Pegawai Kerajaan Mudah Lupa Daratan.

orang kampung,  27 July 2010 at 20:18  

We are just waiting for miracles to happen.

peter,  27 July 2010 at 21:25  

dato, sorry to bother you; can you please write about the abandoned housing problem where innocent buyers are left high and dry by the crooked developers. my daughter is a victim of talam and it is sickening to have to pay monthly installments for the next 20 years for nothing. part of the blame falls on the government which sides the developers over the voiceless buyers. the sponsors list of the perdana foundation contain some of these crooks and it would appear that TDM is aligned to these people.

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 22:41  

Dato,

Singpopore's fate was decided by 250 elitist nationalists with LKY as the supremo.

Our supposedly great Nation till date is still decided with its bad fate by the 2500 morons in Umno!

What do you expect from the chief morons they are not assuredly xenopbobic but Sinopbobic they are so much afraid of seeing from eyes to eyes with the Chinese so long as a fair play of games which require brains.

More so they are afraid of the Sing Chinese!

By juxtapose 1 Chinese with 10 of these morons, they would still phobic of loosing by competition on a level ground!

Just like the SDO you mentioned, only a simple task he couldn't have done it properly to answer his bosses (the tax-payers) and he messed up the small class F projects making him a class super F* he was only good at hiding beneath the sarong of the many Penang moronic goons of Umno!

Yet he called his bosses' proxy biadab when he obviously behaved more uncouthly and uncultured typical of the moronic and pirat-ized Malay culture, racist and haughty!

We will always be living in such a 'dreary and gloomy' Nation as long as the most depraved and dastardly British colonial masters had groomed this bunch of morons and they continue to stay at helm!

Sigh!

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 22:50  

Dato,

I can't agree more to what you say especially on the bloated civil service.

I wish you are the Head of Civil Service. I am very sure you can lean, trim and shake them up so that they know what are their roles and responsibilities.

Since Najib used to be your boss, please please throw this idea at him.

Your drive, ideas, intellect are what Najib needs in his Cabinet. Not those big mouthed, noodle-filled between their ears type of ministers such as Rais Yatim, Nazri, Mukhriz, Hishamuddin, Muhyiddin.....

You alone can think for all of them...useless UMNO goons.

Go for it, Dato.

Idris

walla 27 July 2010 at 23:02  

The blogger is right about the need for a better system, for what had shaped the country at the beginning is different from what needs to shape it now that the country has become more established.

When the country started, it was easy to answer what was needed to be done. Just build and expand three-hundred and sixty degrees. As the economy grew because the whole region was underdeveloped while having growing populations, supply could linearly correlate to demand.

But today the world has become more complicated and chaotic. Nonlinear forces and factors have come into play. With each year of establishment, it becomes harder to answer what needs to be done next because other countries have come into the picture which could supply just as well and with newer equipment to the same global customers.

But it could still have been done, and it was done in the case of the dot. That was because it had a system which didn't break from the very beginning for the very reason it was understood and accepted as necessary pains of yesteryear to be endured for more secure and comfortable profits today and tomorrow.

The dot started by realizing what really matter to it in the global context, and it kept at that until today each transition and progression remain seamless and its people could say they can compete globally.

Where we fail here was because we didn't pin down the most important question of it all - how to upscale to be globally relevant at all times. And the reason why we didn't do so was because we never had the right people organized together to agree on a singular worldview and how to get on with achieving the best for the nation over and above the custodial dictates of clueless groupings out to carve political corners to safeguard their own parochial interests.

Thus the inefficiencies of politics burned the logic circuits of economics so much so best tracks and practices were sacrificed for power-chasers who came and went, leaving behind a distorted system of pen-pushers which in turn could not sustain new and more demanding roles which have come calling.

donplaypuks® 27 July 2010 at 23:03  

"donplaypuks, you are right. The operating budget of the Executive Office of the President of the US — our equivalent of the PMD — is US $394 million, or RM1,263,000,000.

The staff is 1,888 people. That includes not just the President’s own office but also the US Trade Representative’s office, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, and so on. John Malott - July 19, 2010 at 2:29 am."

Bro, that was a comment from John Mallot ex-USA Ambassador to M'sia.

If we start from the very top with PM Najib's office at $4 billion op cost and $8 billion development cost + 43,000 staff, down to the bottom, we may have to retrench about 700,000 civil servants which will also save us billions in pension payouts in future!!

As 90% of them would be Malay Bumiputra, who in M'sia do you think has the willpower or guts to do it?

Many of them could be retrained with new skills such as IT and absorbed in the private sector. That will require a very bold and courageous leader indeed!

dpp
we are all of 1 race, the Human race

walla 27 July 2010 at 23:11  

2

That is why there is a communication and implementation lacuna in the government today. First, it had to call upon specialists from outside to help craft a new vision, mission and plan. Then it had to understand them itself without appearing to do so, then interpret them to fit its own philosophy of service, and after that sell it to those below who are supposed to implement them to the rakyat with enough confidence to explain any kinks without tripping over their explanations.

As we can see in too many recent situations, many of the explanations seemed to have been off-the-cuff and not brought out from the original rationale behind the plans. And that's because they don't have a system that champions the best management to tap the best information to arrive at the most measured decisions or draw preemptive conclusions before things crop up.

Therefore no one can be blamed for being puzzled how it was we can lose two-thirds of our seafood export to Europe. Surely one phone-call would be all it be needed to ask our scouts in our European theater of foreign affairs operations to find out the standards and requirements, then pipe the findings back well ahead of their inspection visits to give enough time for the locals to turn over a new leaf. What is going to stick now is the reputation which will be lost with the national-branding and with that the vestigial leverage to negotiate better prices.

And as you read that, this is being repeated. There seems to be a container congestion up north. The response is that a committee is looking into it and it is aware of the problem. But if a committee has to be formed to look into a capacity problem, doesn't that say the people who should be monitoring the situation constantly didn't, or if they did, they didn't understand the economic and namesake implications? If people put two and two together, they can say this country blew twelve billion on a seaport zone which is as underserved as its equally pricey airport, and then leave to disintegrate a simple set of logistics for a small container port upon whose lubricated performance an entire hub depends for its survival. And we want to talk about building a total supply chain for some?

There are disconnects all over the place. Because we don't have a failsafe system. We may point to the shiny UPS on the ceiling but when lightning strikes, we can only see the sparks from a loose cable dangling down from it. Sparks can incinerate even mansions.

Without a fallback position in the form of a system, people in positions cannot learn from those before them and cannot enrich the system content-wise for those after them. Each new position-holder will then start the first things in his mind, leading to the rakyat being taken for rides as experimental guinea hamsters. This will cost the country in so many regards - overpricing, poor quality, under-performance, opportunity cost of time, openings to corruption, loss of competitiveness, frustrations, demotivation and erosion of reputation. It then recycles to the next batch but at a heightened level of complaints so that when the penultimate phase is reached, the incumbent just goes through the motions because he realizes it's nigh impossible to make full redress in the time given.

walla 27 July 2010 at 23:11  

3

That is not all. There will be fiefdom holders within the ziggurats of the civil service who will not think twice to throw their spanners now and then into the works just to try and make the system work for their own agendas or those of their second purse-string holders, or to coerce the suffering rakyat to take their side-line services to bypass the artificial delays. All this can only compound the suffering of the rakyat, raise the cost of doing business here, push away investors and bring the economy to the brink, what more sully the trust of the rakyat and others in the government. Because if Selangor kampung folks can mistake Umno as the one giving free water, they can also mistake the misdeeds of the federal civil service as the intent of its political masters, the same who are counting on the service to supply the buffer votes for the next election.

Can matters be grimmer? Yes. Take the present projection to reach advanced state status. It's now a no. But that no is excused on shallow FDI and external paucity of demand. It should also be predicated on a possible oversight in the NEM modelling. We are not told how the six percent annual growth rate is derived but it seems to be on the back of a base. But what has been happening in the past was that this base was artificially shored by subsidies. Without subsidies, we would not have done as well in those years. Which means in the ten years ahead, the growth rates will have to be even higher than six percent in order to grow the base to hit the per capita high-income status being envisioned because in addition to a reduction of the original base, we now will not have the luxury of future subsidies.

Which thus perturbs the present explanations for the precipitous drop by over eighty percent in our FDI. One said the FDI outflow should be viewed positively because it is investment in Indonesia. Like Maxis, Maybank, Sime and JCorp, one presumes, and the explanation coming from a conglomerate which had locally advertised long lists of defaulter writeoffs from its own portfolio?

Then there's the other explanation for the loss of FDI inflow. Now it is said it is because we are selective. Like fizzy drink manufacturing is a nice selection amidst our new desugarization trail?

Like this, how to even envision us as composed of thirteen dots, each functioning as efficiently as that @#?

This post, for Sak.


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http://is.gd/dMlgn

Anonymous,  27 July 2010 at 23:29  

Again..its the NEP & all Malays are stupid & incapable of doing anything right.

How many % of Malays are in the Civil Service?How many of them are the Science Students?And,aren't their career shaped by the political masters?To survive,you need to be as dumb as the boss.

I have often heard Ministers praising young officers & saying that they got good potential cos cos of their dressing and table manners.

And FYI I have had meetings with dumbo non-Bumi civil servants...but I do not use that to characterise all non-Bumis.

There's a real danger that ur blog is becoming a mouthpiece of bigots n racists.

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 01:29  

Dato

amongst all the condemnation of the civil service, i would like to commend the Malaysian High Comm in UK. They are absolutely professional in their work. I was just there few weeks ago to renew my passport and the 2 visits in the same day do not total more than 30 minutes tops. that is efficiency. the front desk was manned by a very friendly, helpful and courteous man too. there's no attitude, eksyen or high horse stuff. This I think would be the exception than the norm.In any case worth commending and emulated. Oh - if they could cut out the second visit to collect the passport, then it would be perfect. almost.

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 08:32  

Please bear in mind, similar issues are happening in GLICs and GLCs too

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 08:46  

In Malaysia, our PM talked savvy about creating the ideal eco-systems in his bloated civil service. Poordah la.

Just call any phone number of any gomen agency and see if you get frustrated by their efficiency.

Our gomen is only good at sloganeering - ada form but without substance.

Only the simpletons will believe what the gomen spins out which of late is becoming very savvy like 'blue ocean', eco-system etc but talk only la.

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 09:15  

Apart from oversized and inefficient public civil service,similar problem also occurs in some of the GLICs and GLCs.

Below are the real examples of common practices in SOME of the above mentioned organizations that
probably leads them to become what it is today & that will probably lead to its downfall in the long run:

1. Management By Fear practices.

2. Emphasizing too much on trivial matters and petty issues than critical issues.

3. Appointing Chairman and BOD from ex top civil servants whom do not have any business acumen.

4. Top management have been holding powers for too long thus obstructing career growth
opportunities for young professionals.

5. Promoting employees and appointing Managers based on seniority, rank and file
and not on pure merit & proper qualification.

6. Employing too many employees (just for the sake of CSR) that leads to overstaffing thus resulting
to inefficiency,wastages,underwork & less productivity.

7. Paying peanuts to young professionals that leads to brain drain.

8. One way (top-down) communication & change process.

9. Investment decisions based on "unseen hand" instructions

And the list goes down further.....

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 09:40  

Yeah, I do agree that not all public servants are the dumbos.

For instance, the EPF department in Penang, if i were to appraise them fairly, the counter staffs worth my thumb-up and they deserve to be accorded a 4-star service if 6-stars is the highest accolade by my standard.

They are so friendly. The youngish officer i met was an Indian lass i believe she could be a fresh graduate was trained in such service oriented manners that a 4-star hotel could also be shied away in terms of counter service of guests.

Efficient enough. All it took for me to cash out my final lump sum was done from queueing for the number, filled in the forms with simplified format till was called to verify personal identity....it's a hey presto type of processing all in within less than half and hour!

What impressed me most was, i couldn't feel the least of the scent of bureaucracy tantamount to the bossy legacy left behind by the former hooked nose colonial masters!

Such 'new culture' if were to be preserved henceforth and long term, the fair minded rakyat are sure to commend accordingly.

Give credit when credit is due.

And anon@23:29, if you still feel that that federal dumbo SDO didn't befit to be bashed for his insubordination and 'biadab' behaviour, by simply equate the fair comments against such uncouth manner as bigoted and racist, sorry to say, you are just another dumbo likened the dumbo non-Bumi officer you had met!

Blame the politician some more? The dumbo leading dumbos?!

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 11:21  

People have forgotten the point that Malaysia is not a republic, by principal public servant is answerable to the Goverment which is answerable to Sultan/Agong. Its not true that public servant work for the people since the power of the PM is derived from Agong and the power of Agong is derived from their birth right (if not try to tell that to the Sultan). This is a feudalistic sytem that we inherent from the days of Malay sultan and set in stone in the Constitution.

Greenbottle 28 July 2010 at 13:39  

funny...if you ask any dept head why his/her dept isn't working as efficiently as it should be...the answer 99% of the time is "not enough manpower"...

and it's very true about dept heads being bodoh sombong...i was in govt dept for 14 years and i've never met bigger and stupider bastards in my life...

and now i'm working in mnc. just me covering the whole of asean region and my boss is in UK...if this is a govt dept...there'll be 50 employees -at least- to do just my job!...

Anonymous,  28 July 2010 at 13:55  

I don't know what is "Government transformation strategy" is all about this day. Every time, I go
to Putrajaya for any kinds of services, I received lame excuses bosses are attending courses for promotion and meetings and so on, so approvals will be late. All officers are busy having meetings among themselve and attending courses in sharpening their skills and promotion. Here, we are talking about customer focussed and service delivery. We need simple requests for services and I don't know why they have to attend all kind courses while neglecting their core work i.e servicing their customer. Attending meetings and courses may not necessary give better services to people. What about car parking? Worse still, all taken by staff, visitor parks are limited and far away from the main building. Now, we have slogan "rakyat didahulu dan pencapaian diutamakan" and KSN transformasi kerajaan" Please explain this mean in reality.

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