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.