CIVIL servants must develop a culture that will pave the way for the emergence of not only a dedicated, efficient and ethical civil service, but also one which gives emphasis on management integrity.
To achieve this objective, it is necessary to have a work culture that incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency. While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what really is important is to ensure that the values are practised by all civil servants.
Mere slogans and lip service are not going to help.
Corruption has been with us since the beginning of civilisation. Yet, we cannot be complacent because it destroys not only the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.
It has been proven in many instances that an individual takes bribes mainly because he is greedy and is presented with opportunities to commit corrupt practices.
Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. To eradicate such practices, all law enforcement agencies should have an internal control system to detect irregularities.
Efforts should continuously be made to instil integrity and ethical values because persons of high integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices in whatever circumstances.
I believe that the inculcation of noble and ethical values, accompanied by adherence to the oath of good governance, are the most effective ways to fight corrupt practices in the civil service.
To fight corruption, we need to build a strong deterrence that will subject corrupt practices to public scrutiny. The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools to expose local corruption.
The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum.
In this context, the enormous cost of corruption is being explicitly recognised as the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.
Corruption is an entrenched symptom of misgovernance often reflected in patronage, red tape, ineffective revenue-generating agencies, large-scale bribery in procurement and failure to deliver services.
But when local officials in charge of public resources are made accountable to their citizens, decision-making becomes participatory.
In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions. The challenge facing local governments is to develop innovative ways of building effective, accountable and transparent systems.
Countries with good governance can expect to attract huge financial and human resources.
In line with the creation of transparent local authorities, steps must be taken to instil moral and ethical values among the staff. This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his or her duties.
Morals and ethics are not only important to the civil service but also to all sectors of Malaysian society.
The answer lies in every Malaysian as to whether he is prepared to make honesty and integrity a way of life.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Kuala Lumpur NST Letters 23 Nov 2014