Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hail to the Public Service..




Today, 8th March, 2012, the Prime Minister announced government's decision on the revision of pay for the more than a million public servants in the country. The new system for pay revision (SBPA) as proposed by PSD was dropped and the old remuneration system (SSM) with appropriate amendments was retained. Undeniably this was as a result of Cuepec's intervention. A special Commission was to be set up tao continuously examine not only the remuneration system of the Public Service in view of the rising cost of living and the economic transformation of the nation in its quest to become a high-income nation, but also the role and functions of the public service.

Meanwhile an 9% - 13% rise in income ( higher for the lower income group and lower for the higher income earners) with considerable increases in various allowances were agreed to. So, there is an all round increase for everyone, although the proposed PREMIER SERVICE group did not get its way, much to the relief of those who would have been lumped under the PERFUNCTORY GROUP ( Kumpulan Pelaksana) under the PSD's proposal. Officers in the PREMIER SERVICE were supposed to get an income at par with their counterparts in the private sector to allow for outstanding executives in the private sector to be appointed as public officials.There was no provision, however, for public officials to cross over to the private sector. They were to go on contract, to be easily displaced if found wanting.

Obviously some deep thinking must be done about the public service in this age of high education and modern technology. Public officials especially at the senior levels should be computer literate and armed with 3G I phone or I pads in order to have critical information at their fingertips. Junior and middle level officers just carry out their duties according to the guidelines and regulations set by the agencies they serve. An application or a service is approved or rejected based on those rules and regulations
without much argument. But higher level officers must deal with borderline cases, with new situations not covered by the regulations and new sensitivities. They have a wider area off discretion to deal with. They need more information and opinions from their colleagues and superiors, Hence the need for a quick SMS or HP conference. That can only be done on the 3G equipment. Writing letters and memos or holding a meeting may take days or weeks.

How, therefore, can a senior officials handle his critical decision-making job without utilizing the new 3G equipment, which now is even moving towards a 4G technology? How can he or she get the views of colleagues and superiors quickly to make the right or "acceptable" decision? Do the senior officers make critical decision at all today, or just leave matters in the hands of their political bosses through minutes, memos and meetings? The common belief is that all important and even minor decisions are now left to the political bosses to make, and senior officials just become a channel for communicating the problem - a postman. Is that really true? If so then the authority of the senior civil servants should be reexamined and realigned with the modern politico-administrative arrangements in the governance of a nation.

8 comments:

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
It goes without saying, a higher income should be matched with higher productivity.You've suggested a brilliant feedback tool. Facilities are there, the technology is available.How to exploit not just utilise them.If the older folks are short on 'exploiting' cyberspace,then get a group of specialists working in tandem within or in cross-depts to do them.Otherwise you'll get simple translations of the 'clothes that poke the eyes'( pakaian yang menjolok mata)kinds. Obviously by not giving priority to info for public consumption that transcends cyberspace can be fatal.There are other areas too (besides info)that can be upgraded to match modern technology.

Hank

norzah said...

Not just utilize but exploit modern technology and cyberspace to raise productivity in the public service, is indeed the key issue, Akhi Kaykuala. Because many top public servants cannot as yet make full use of the 3G technology to help them in getting quick information update, have discussions and exchange of views among colleagues, and advise their political bosses, they tend to be isolated in the decision making process. This gives the political bosses the sole right to make decisions, even on matters that are purely administrative.

We must remember that information is power. Because top civils servants do not have access to political infomation which can be obtained through contact with the grassroots through modern 3G technology, they cannot therefore argue with their political bosses on any issue at. They therefore become plain 'yes-man'.

abdulhalimshah said...

Akhi Norzah,
Your tongue in cheek posting on the present state of affairs of the public service is right on target. But more importantly is the personal integrity of the top leadership which is very much lacking.Just talk to any head of department or the Ministry's Secretary-Generals, they prefer to keep their mouth shut rather than show their true colours for fear of victimisation. This culture of playing safe rather than suffer the ignominy of being put in the "Pool" have caused the utter deterioration of quality in the recent fiasco. I am sure any top officer knows that the huge disparity between the top layers and the ordinary public servants in terms of remuneration would put well-meaning senior officers to shame compared to the output and the role they perform in the decision making process in current times. But no one dared to say that the Emperor had no clothes. Thus after two years of hard work put in by the team in PSD, everything just went down the drain, not by default but more by the lack of courage and integrity of the top leadership to call a spade a spade. No amount of Commissions can provide the solution to the rot in the Civil Service.

norzah said...

The unwillingness of top civil servants to say out what they actually think and feel and the proclivity to play it safe, are certainly turning the civil service into an army of subservient functoinaries. In some cases the top civil servants even become squeamish sycophants to fan the ego of their political bosses. This could very lead to the loss of authority and plume in the civil service.

I totally agree with you that no Commission can restore these 'aura' in the civil service, Akhi Halim. It has to be rebuilt on the basis of a mastery in information gathering, processing and analysis. It is here that a dexterity in 3G technology can give them a great advatage. But I believe that the younger political aspirants are more into it than the senior civil servants. Hence the overshadowing of the civil service by the political stooges.

Al-Manar said...

Naik lagi lah harga barang! And I am not even a pensioner to enjoy a few dollars.

norzah said...

Sorrylah Akhi Pakcik Al-Manar kerana pindaan gaji dan pencen la ni tak memberi apa2 manfaat pada Akhi. Harga barang2 mungkin naik sikit following the announcement. But i'm sure it wont hurt you more than us living in KL. As you know even toothpicks and cottonbuds must be bought.
There're still many things that you can get for free in the kampung and I for one will be going back more often. Salam.

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