TWO years have gone by since the Government decided that all its agencies, at Federal and state levels, would have integrity units.
The Public Service Department circular issued in July 2013 said these units would be the agencies’ focal points in addressing integrity-related matters.
The aim of setting up these units is to ensure that civil servants work in an environment underpinned by morality, ethics and patriotism.
This initiative is also meant to curb indiscipline and criminal misconduct in the public sector.
These units fulfil their role by promoting good governance, strengthening integrity, dealing with complaints of wrongdoings, monitoring compliance with the law, and functioning as secretariats of the Public Service Disciplinary Board.
And not just anybody can head a government agency’s integrity unit. He has to be a Certified Integrity Officer, which means he must be trained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
According to the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), 746 integrity units have been formed in ministries, departments and agencies in 2013 and 2014.
These units have a part to play in the efforts over the next five years to achieve the 11MP objective of making the Government more citizen-centric and focused on improving the efficiency and productivity of the public service.
“Service delivery will be further enhanced and executed with speed and accuracy through innovative and creative approaches while upholding integrity,” said the Government in the development plan.
It is a good time to review the effectiveness of the integrity units and to identify weaknesses in the implementation of the initiative.
We know, for example, that some organisations have been slow in responding to the 2013 circular.
On Thursday, StarMetro reported that the local councils in Selangor had yet to act firmly despite a state government’s directive two weeks ago that they set up integrity units.
It is possible that it is not easy to get the right people to run these units. At a breakfast talk early last month, MACC chief Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed said the integrity units in enforcement agencies needed more manpower to better fight graft.
We also need to recognise that these integrity units cannot be a cure-all.
Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) was ahead of the curve when it set up an integrity unit in October 2012. And yet, it now faces allegations of impropriety in property deals in Australia involving Mara Inc.
To be fair, Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa said Mara’s integrity unit was already part of an internal probe into the deals before an Australian newspaper began publishing stories on the controversy.
What is most important at this stage is to assess the performance of the hundreds of integrity units.
There should be a review of their activities, findings and recommendations. A consolidated report on this would be useful and it should be made public.
It is a great idea to have integrity units in government agencies. But if we are in the dark about what they do or do not do, it remains only an idea in our heads.The STAR Home Opinion Columnists The Star Says Sunday July 5, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM