" The time when PTDs were seen as exclusive and a cut above the rest in the service is a thing of the past."
" The days when being in the Administrative and Diplomatic Service or the PYD was seen as a premier are long gone, passe."
(Quote from the OFFICIAL MOBILE WEB OF THE CHIEF SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF MALAYSIA - 21 JULU 2010.)
As an ex- PTD ( Pegawai Tadbir Awam) officer who started service as a Malayan Civil Service Officer (MSC) way back in the early 60s, I can say that the MCS officers were the elite core of the government. This remained so after all the expatriate British officers left the country and the entire civil service was run by local MCS officers. They remained the chief advisors to the political leaders who took over the reins of government after Malaya gained its Independence.
It was the primier service, supervising and coordinating all aspects of administration at the federal and state level. The Chief Secretary to the Government was constantly by the side of the Prime Minister and all Ministers consult the Permanent Secretary of their respective Ministry and/or the Chief Secretary to Government before making any important administrative decision. The head of a Technical or Professional Department was invariably a professional man but remained subject to the supervision and coordination of the MCS/PTD officer(s) at the Ministry who held a lot of authority delegated by the Permanent Secretary, later called Secretary General.
This has changed and as emphasized by the Chief Secretary to Government, the PTD is no longer a primier service nor are the PTD officers a cut above the rest in the service. Why so? Many questions can be raised in this regard:
(1) Can the PTD officers relinquish their lead role when the controlling officer for all expenditures remain with the Ministry - with the Sec. Gen as the final authority with supervisory power even over the technical or professional head of department?
(2) Is the "downgrading' of the PTD due to the upgrading of the other services (Health, Education. Agriculture, Irrigation etc) or the fact that the entire services now come under the direct control of the respective Ministers.
(3) Are the technical and professional officers adequately trained to handle administrative and management matters with a sufficient working knowledge of the legal and procedural requirements involved, when they are chosen to head a Ministry?
(4) Is the taking over of many administrative and managerial functions of the PTD officers by the political bosses leading us to a more effective governance and administration or causing the PTD officers to become mere functionaries without any leadership role?
(5) Are the political bosses who increasingly exercise the powers of the PTDs and even of the technical or professoinal heads of depatment, accountable for their actions and are subject to the General Order, FGO and other administrative circulars which govern the action of the PTDs? and finally
(6) Is the administration of the country with more decisions made by the political masters rather than the administrators much better now than it was when all administrative decisions were made by the administrators mostly PTDs while politicians handle the politics of governance?
What is obvious today is that the political bosses are no longer involved in determining policy matters only but involved in the day-to-day administration of the Ministry and departments. The Sec-Gen and senior PTD officers just take orders like any other lower ranking staff without any possibility of giving the Ministers and political bosses some necessary administrative advice.
There's, therefore, no administrative constraints today on what the Ministers can and cannot do. Any officer who stands in the way of what his/her Minister and political bosses want to do by pointing out certain regulations, can be considered as a bureaucratic hindrance and impediment. The PTDs have become not service oriented but servile, not leaders but voiceless functionaries. to be barked at and rediculed most of the time, without the ability to think one step ahead of their political masters and tell them that if they loose the next election they will become just another man-on-the-street.
But even then the PTDs cannot be too sure. A politician can loose an election but still be appointed as a Minister through the Senate, thus NOT REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE but the boss. The discarded PTD has only one place to go. The POOL or early retirement. The best PTD officer is one who follows every whims and fancy of the political Master, who smiles even when called a fool.He is but a glorified clerk.
The PTDs got to prove themselves otherwise to regain the status of the former MCS officers. The political Masters assume authority saying that they are voicing what the people want. The PTDs can stand up by saying you know what the country needs in terms of effective administration and management. If you don't. then you deserve the position at the nadir of the