ETHICS and good moral values are essential if we are to have a clean, efficient and trustworthy administration.
Civil servants must develop a culture which will help 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 which incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency.
While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what really is important in the final analysis is to ensure the practice of these noble values by all civil servants. Mere slogans and lip service are not going to help.
Corruption has been with us since the beginning of human organisation. Yet, we cannot be unconcerned and complacent about corruption because it attacks not only the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.
Corruption is pervasive, affecting almost every aspect of life. From the person who wants his business application to be processed speedily to others who want to expedite their application for low-cost housing, bribery can take place. It manifests itself in so many other forms where the public interacts with the authorities.
It has been proven in many instances that an individual took bribes mainly because he is greedy and is presented with opportunities to commit corrupt practices. It is indisputable to state that greed is the motivating factor behind most, if not all, 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 which can detect irregularities.
Efforts should continuously be made to instill integrity and ethical values, because persons of high integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices in whatever circumstances.
Public administrators and all civil servants must discharge their duties with integrity and honesty besides being ethical and transparent.
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 strong incentives which will subject corrupt practices to public scrutiny.
The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools and information to combat local corruption. Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness. Corruption is clearly a factor that can and does reduce the attractiveness of one community over another.
The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum. In this context, the enormous costs of corruption are being explicitly recognized, as is 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 to city dwellers.
But, when local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to their citizens, decision-making can become participatory. In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers.
The challenge facing local governments is to develop innovative ways of building effective, accountable, and transparent systems.
Cities implementing and sustaining accountable and transparent systems as well as good governance reform programmes benefiting the urban dwellers can expect to attract financial and human resources and become showcases of exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.
In the final analysis, preventing corruption helps to raise city revenues, improve service delivery, stimulate public confidence and participation and win public support.
In line with the creation of transparent local authorities steps must be taken to instill moral and ethical values among their staff. This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his or her duties to the public.
Morals and ethics are not only important to the civil service but also to all sectors of Malaysian society. This is because graft and other forms of malpractices are also evident in the corporate world, non-governmental organisations and even voluntary organisations.
The answer really lies in every Malaysian as to whether he or she is prepared to make honesty and integrity a way of life. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye Kuala Lumpur The NST Letters 13 Mar 2015