Monday, January 24, 2011

Private and Voluntary Organizations

In all developed nations there are a number private and voluntary organizations which play a vital role in promoting the welfare of the country and society. They play a great role in the economic, business, industrial and social development of the country, with their own funding and organizational ability.

These bodies usually cooperate but work outside the government administrative infrastructure. They may get some assistance from the government but do not come under the directive of the government. They are independent and make their own decisions.

Such is the case with the trade unions, the various business, industrial and financial associations, and numerous professional groups or associations. They do sometimes act as a countervailing power to the government when there's no effective opposition to evaluate and criticize government's action.

The government is of course free to befriend any private or voluntary organization, give financial assistance and seek its support in whatever program the government is launching. Or on the other hand to contain its activities if they go against the interest of the government. The big question is: to what extent can government assist such bodies financially or provide funding for its activities from the public coffer? Providing some special funding for specific purposes approved and supported by government isokay. Such approval goes through the normal budgeting process.

But can and should government allocate public funds to a private and voluntary organization as if it's a part of the government apparatus? Furthermore can such bodies use public officials to administer and promote its activities which lie outside the scope of normal governmental operations or represent government on an official basis? Can government premises be used for the operations of such private and voluntary bodies? When all the answers are 'yes' what makes the private or voluntary organization private or voluntary as different from a normal government agency?

If such private and voluntary organizations are allowed to take over some of the government's functions then goverment rules and regulations will be thrown to the dogs. Such fear had cropped up when the privatization of some government services was embarked upon some years ago. The privatized agencies function outside government control since they finance themselves.
But as we all know many run into problems and the government had to bail them out. It ends up with the government coughing out huge sums of public money to support their operations. These privatized agencies are known to be quite lavish in their spending, pay their staff high salaries, and escape all forms of review by the government itself. When faced with financial problems they just seek government's help or raise the charges that they impose on the public for the services they provide.

How much is this costing the government and the public today? And now we have private or voluntary organizations functioning very much like government agencies but not placed directly under government control. Is this another form of privatization? These include the association of VIP's wives and and other associations involved in promoting
the interest of bright but disadvantaged children. With all these extra-governmental activities going on, it might perhaps be better if the civil service is reduced to a minimum and more of the services be handed over to private organizations run on public funding. Another way of doing it is to allow politicians and private sector people to head all the important posts in government services as chosen by the political bosses in power. Or to emulate the American system of administration, important public posts can be filled in by popular votes. These include the post of the Chief Secretary to Government, the Inspector General of Police, the Attorney General etc.

The public and civil service in Malaysia has increasingly been overshadowed and denuded by the authority of the political masters. The privatized agencies have taken over many of the functions the civil service used to be responsible for. When will a new evaluation be made as to what the civil service should continue to do and the rest of the functions be handed over to the private sector or the government sponsored private and voluntary organizations?


rambomadonna said...

This is a very interesting post Norzah. I too, have been questioning some of our political masters stand with regards to NGOs and private instituitions lately. Nak pancing undi (or appease them) atau just a way to channel out public funds (opppssss) for their benefits. Sorry ... Terpaksa said it out loud.

To be honest, though I applaud some of the efforts and transformation made so far (and before I tersedar dari lamunan), I could not help but question ... What is our policy direction? Take ETP's EPPs for example, I couldn't help but noticed that few of the CEOs were linked one way or another with some prominent political masters or ministers. Hmmm ... Yg buat I terkilan ... These people are former or currently PTDs (cross fertz). Ppl whom I dealt in the past.

norzah said...

CEOs have to have direct capable or capbles with some prominent politician and national leaders in order to survive, J. Especially the CEO pf GLCs who sometimes are just a proxy of the big political boss. Their capability as a genuine corporate leader is very doubtful since whatever success they have achievedearlier was with the strong backing of certain leaders.
Now public money is going out in hundreds of millions to these private or voluntary organizations for specific programs. the success if which escapes government evaluation. The national coffer could be drained through this ploy/

Al-Manar said...

'But can and should government allocate public funds to a private and voluntary organization as if it's a part of the government apparatus?'

Light-heatedly I would ask,"Are you joking by asking that kind of question?"

And I wonder what I would do if I were to be in power. I wlll of course start with the first principle - charity begins at home. I suppose I will have a lot to do. So my first wife will supervise her three 'madus' and she will have all the power on earth to think and act for the good of my body and soul.

norzah said...

The question may seem silly, Akhi, but millions of ringgit are now spent on assisting private organizations/associations related to govt ( like the association of ministers' wives) or sponsoring favored
festivities. This is different from money spent on bailing out collapsing GLCs with politicians at the helm. It's said that now the public is subsidizing firms and private business organization instead of the other way around. Salam.