So much has been written about Little Napoleons in Penang recently. But are there Little Hitlers around?
We state clearly here that there are no Hitlers in Malaysia who would want to physically decimate anybody. Nor are there Hitlers in this country who would want to conquer and rule the world. But are there not those who, through the democratic process, would hope to rule Malaysia, even if through Muslim Malays they are in cahoot with, in recent times?
Our earlier post has discussed what racism is. The key element in racist attitudes is antagonism towards another race. Again, we state clearly that racists like Hitler wanting to get rid of another race do not exist in this country. But are there not those who would want to see the Malays as low as they possibly can in the economic, educational and social hierarchy, get them stuck where they are economically and educationally, deny them assistance under the New economic Policy, subvert the Malay Special Position by the so-called “Malaysian Malaysia” slogan, call Ibrahim Ali racist and want to start a Chinese Perkasa?
The following articles talk about the Little Napoleons. Let’s see the pros and cons in the arguments put forward, broaden our horizon and wonder if there are some kind of Hitlers also. The racist kind. Not necessarily the physically destructive kind.
Perhaps some expert can put out for our perusal here the theories and practice of the civil service as spelt out in established readers in bureaucracy. We are, unfortunately, not experts.
Bear in mind that one principle adopted by civil servants is that, unlike politicians who, when they disagree, should resign, civil servants, when they disagree, state their grounds for doing so, stay put and carry out the orders of their superiors or their political masters.
Clearly, impartiality is required of civil servants in normal situations. But this is a case involving State and Federal powers and jurisdictions. And they are on the opposing political spectrum.
While we are not in any way connected with or receive any form of support from the Government or any political party, we need to state our views concerning the so-called Little Napoleons.
The pertinent point it seems to us is: the State Development Officer is responsible to the Chief Secretary of the Federal Government and the Chief Secretary is responsible to the Federal Government, not the State Government of Penang.
The State Development Officer’s job is to implement, oversee and report on the progress of Federal Government projects carried out in the State. Projects using Federal Government funds.
A pertinent question is: Is the State Development Officer’s post a Federal post, expenses borne by the Federal Government etc, or the State of Penang. Naturally the principle that applies is: who pays gets the loyalty of who gets paid. Or, the State Development Officer serves, and has to show loyalty to, his paymaster.
No doubt opinions vary. Not without the cloud of political interest and exploitation to suit the political objective(s) of interested parties. The poor Government servant. Sometimes made to be pawns in the political game. But the Officer who is worth his salt knows which side his bread is buttered. So did the State Secretary of Perak in the Perak Sate Government saga some time back.
Let’s discuss these. Everyone is welcomed to participate in the discussion, both in English and in Bahasa Malaysia. Discussing it can broaden our perspective and alert us to the weaknesses among Malaysians of all races and caution us against the pitfalls so that we can avoid them. We need to do so for long-term harmony and peace in this country.
A gross violation of the civil service code
The Penang Nik Ali fiasco
By Thomas Lee Seng Hock
The current spat between Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the state development officer Nik Ali Mat Yunus highlights a fundamental flaw in the Malaysian civil service.
In the democratic system of government, of which Malaysia professes to practise, the civil service is a politically non-partisan and neutral body, with all its officers supposed to function and operate impartially in the implementions of the policies, programmes, and projects of the elected government.
Artcile 132 of the Federal Consitution states that federal civil servants hold office at the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and state civil servants at the pleasure of the respective Sultan. Which means that the civil servants are not beholden to any political party but to His Majesty’s government of the day. His Majestic is above politics, and so must all those civil servants appointed under his royal command and name.
As is supposed to be the practice, a change in the government after a general election is not supposed to affect the administration and public service of the nation or a state as the civil service’s loyalty is absolutely with His Majesty’s elected government of the day.
The fundamental flaw in Malaysia is that civil servants think they are officers of the Barisan Nasional, specifically Umno, and even with a change of government at the state level, they operate as if Umno is the authority and Umno leaders their bosses, taking orders only from Umno.
Such a dangerous attitude borders on sedition, as if it could be interprete to mean the civil servants are not serving His Majesty’s elected government, but taking order from those not authorised constitutionally to give them.
The very fact that Nik Ali participated at a press conference called by Umno and used it to launch an unwarranted and unjustified verbal attack on the chief minister is a gross violation of his status as a non-partisan and neutral civil servant.
The fundamental integrity and probity of the civil service have been desecrated by Nik Ali’s involvement in the political press conference initiated by an Umno state assembly member, something not to be taken lightly by the Cabinet and the Public Service Commission.
Nothing less than an appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against Nik Ali for such a serious case of lese majeste. And he should be made to apologise to His Majesty for exposing the civil service to ridicule and derision, and to the chief minister.
Guan Eng, and perhaps also the other Pakatan Rakyat state chief executives like Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim of Selangor, has been facing a lot of difficulties in the running of the state government due to uncooperative civil servants whose loyalty is apparently to Umno.
In the Nik Ali case, Guan Eng has no choice but to publicly reprimand the federal officer for allegedly not being accountable and responsible for his mistakes which affect the well-being of the state.
“These officials get high pay and do nothing for the people and instead cost losses. We hope he can be more professional,” Guan Eng was quoted as saying by various newspapers.
Guan Eng has also claimed that Nik Ali tried to sabotage the state government openly and blatantly. On this allegation, the very fact that Nik Ali was at an Umno press conference with prepared media statements to lambast the chief minister proves that Guan Eng is telling the truth.
Obviously, Nik Ali has failed as a senior civil servant to exercise his impartiality and neutrality when he allowed himself to be used by Umno to attack Guan Eng, calling the chief minister rude.
If the Najib administration truly professes to practise the “People first” concept, then justice must be done and seen to be done for the people of Penang, who elected Lim Guan Eng as their chief minister, by taking disciplinary action against the federal officer who violated the sacred principle of impartiality in the civil service.
That is the least Datuk Seri Najib Razak should do to show the people that he is a fair, just and righteous prime minister, worthy of their respect.
Decline in moral accountability?
The Penang Nik Ali fiasco
By Thomas Lee Seng Hock
Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan has made himself look very foolish by asking whether it is wrong for civil servants to attend functions held by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, as he is the DAP secretary-general.
Sidek is apparently trying to justify the presence and participation of Penang state development officer Nik Ali
Mat Yunus at an Umno press conference, where the officer verbally lambasted Guan Eng and issued prepared press statements to criticize the chief minister.
I am simply amazed that the country’s top civil servant doesn’t even understand the simple basic difference between a government and a political entity, and respect the very important fundamental principle of impartiality and neutrality of the civil service.
Of course, civil servants have every right to accompany the chief minister or any minister to any function required by their duty to do so. When they attend and participate at such official state functions, including a state-initiated media conference, they are merely doing their job as civil servants serving the elected government of the day. They are not involved in partisan political activities, even though the chief minister or any other minister may be a leader of a political party.
When Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng holds a media conference and has the state secretary with him to brief the press on matters of the state, the state secretary is not violating the civil service code by being there. In fact, it is his duty to be there to help the chief minister answer questions from the press.
But if DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng attends a Teoh Beng Hock memorial service held by his party, a civil servant can only be there in his private personal capacity as Beng Hock’s friend. He cannot be there on duty as civil servent accompanying Guan Eng.
In Nik Ali’s case, he is definitely wrong to attend and participate in a press conference called by Umno to run down the chief minister. He has broken the sacrosanct cardinal principle of the impartiality of the civil service, and must face disciplinary action for it.
It is simply beyond comprehension that Sidek as Chief Secretary to the Government should endorse such a crude and uncouth behaviour and unconstitutional action by a senior civil servant.
Sidek has put himself in a very embarrasing position by giving a very silly comparison of himself holding a press conference together with the prime minister, and that of Nik Ali’s participation of the Umno press conference.
“Is it be wrong if I hold a media conference with Datuk Seri Najib Razak? If it is his job as the prime minister and my job as the chief secretary, then it is not wrong I hold a press conference with him,” Sidek said.
Of course, it is not wrong! It is his job as chief secretary to serve the prime minister and accompany him if so required.
But Nik Ali’s case is defintely not the same. As a civil servant, he should be non-partisan and should not be involved in politicking with Umno.
If Sidek does not understand such a simple distinction between what is government and what is politics, he is not fit to be the country’s top civil servant.
And, even assuming that Nik Ali is a victim of harassment by the chief minister, there is a proper official channel for him to file his grievance and complaint — to the Public Service Department head. Why should Nik Ali use, or rather allowed himself to be used, by a political party to launch an attack on the chief minister?
It is certainly ominous, in fact even sinister, that Nik Ali should chose to use a political vehicle to rucn down the chief minister elected by the people of Penang.
And, it surely is baleful that we have a Chief Secretary to the Government who would condone and absolve a senior civil servant from making political attacks against an elected government head.
The fact that Sidek has announced that no action would be taken against Nik Ali for his verbal assault on the chief minister deserves my commiseration to my fellow Malaysians for the decline in moral accoutability in our beloved country.
And, while I am still on this Nik Ali issue, I would like to comment on another ridiculous statement, this time by Penang Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan who condemned Guan Eng for the fiasco.
Teng alleged that Guan Eng was out to gain political mileage and strengthen his position to garner more votes and support from the public in the next general election.
It is certainly ludicrous that Teng should make such a preposterous statement, but, seeing that he is from Gerakan, it is not surprising since most of its leaders are incongruously inept and lack the intelligence, let alone intellect, to understand basic issues affecting the people.
Teng and the imbeciles in Gerakan should throw in the towel and retire permanently from Penang since they are of no relevance and pertinence in the state.
They should stop making themselves look inane with their vacuous statements.
Speed and accuracy
By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng have both mentioned about “Little Napoleon” recently.
Najib reminded civil servants not to become Little Napoleons who do not understand innovation. Meanwhile, Lim lashed out at a Little Napoleon who refuses to cooperate with and makes things difficult for the state government.
No matter what kind of Little Napoleons they are, they will hinder the country’s development as they always take some casual words of their superiors and use them as having the authority of an order. Some people are just taking the advantage to make troubles as the PM and CM are too busy to monitor them.
The reason for the increasing number of Little Napoleons is due to the delayed rectification for the public delivery system, which leaves a space for Little Napoleons to abuse their power.
From Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Tun Abdullah Badawi, and then to Najib, the federal government has always been trying to improve public services.
Najib has highlighted 10 issues, including how to enhance the country’s public delivery service with 445 political and business elites and professionals when they had a dialogue on the 2011 Budget.
If the country wishes to transform into a high-income economy, its administrative efficiency must not remain at the middle level.
According to the 2010 investigation by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) based in Hong Kong, the administrative efficiency of Malaysia has scored 6.97 points and ranks the middle position among 12 countries and regions. Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are ranked above Malaysia.
The failure of enhancing the administrative efficiency over all these years is related to the government and leaders’ requirements. Whenever they talk about efficiency improvement, they have only one standard: to speed up services.
For example, the Immigration Department has sped up the passport approval process from the previous seven days to the current one hour. And those who lost their MyKad can obtain on-the-spot replacements at the Putrajaya National Registration Department.
Other government departments are also taking the speed-up challenge. The Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia has shortened the approval time for new company registration from three days to one hour while 166 national courts has adopted four electronic systems to shorten the time of trial.
In addition to the pursuit of speed, administrative efficiency should actually also include implementing strict discipline, reducing bureaucracy, avoiding making mistakes, making accurate and feasible decisions, eliminating waste, possessing ability to plan and deal with an emergency and enhancing service attitude.
For example, the policy requiring the public to purchase fuel with MyKad was a wrong decision. As a result, the government has wasted RM70 million to buy MyKad readers. Also, the Election Commission (EC) had spent RM2 million on indelible ink, but its use was later cancelled. Has any related civil servant been punished for it?
The prime minister should conduct a government administrative efficiency workshop to identify an key performance indicator (KPI) for the effectiveness of the 1.2 million civil servants.
Nowadays, competitions are not limited to only in terms of speed, but also accuracy and professionalism. For example, it is not going to work to only improve speed for government hospitals as diagnostic errors can lead to death. Also, no matter how fast the service of the Immigration Department is, computer system errors must still have to be fixed as quickly as possible. All administration officials should be aware of this.
Sin Chew Daily