RECENTLY, the Government has advised us to cope with the challenges of our economic downturn, which has reduced Government expenditure by RM9.5bil.
The gross domestic product earlier forecast at between 4% and 5% has been revised to between 4% and 4.5%.
The Prime Minister has called on government servants to think out of the box to increase productivity. Truly, this is a tall order.
Any government department or individual civil servant that can come out with an innovative and creative idea to address our economic woes should be richly rewarded in both cash and kind.
However, as a government servant for 35 years and 16 years in the private sector, I would like make some suggestions about the work ethics of public servants, which is nothing out of the box but mere common sense and of course practical. I presume many members of the public share my sentiments.
All public servants must be reminded that they are no different from the staff in the private sector, that is, they are employed to work (work, and nothing else); simply put they need to work responsibly and diligently to earn the taxpayers money.
Often we see civil servants pursuing their self-interests in the office, whiling away their time chit-chatting; checking their social e-mails, Facebook and Twitter; moonlighting doing direct sales; eating tidbits; indulging in office politics; and going for their privileged tea/coffee breaks that is unheard of in the private sector, which only has one break, that is the lunch break.
This type of lackadaisical and apathetic work culture is absolutely unacceptable even in times of economic prosperity.
Sadly, their common lame excuse for their undesirable negative work ethics is that they have finished the work assigned to them or they have nothing better to do.
If that is so, the departmental heads should consider them redundant and recommend them for a transfer to other departments in dire need of manpower, especially those serving the public at the counters, and administrators processing applications from the business sector.
The department heads, in particular, should go to the ground to hear the people’s grouses and resolve their long-standing issues. In short, they ought to make themselves approachable, in-touch and in-tune with the people, to feel their pulse, to know their needs and soothe their worries and anxieties.
Yes, be people-centric and zero tolerant for the blatant disregard for people’s complaints and grouses.
At this time of economic hardship, the public servants must sympathise and empathise with the rakyat and not be aloof; they should never be perceived as being detached from the people and their concerns.
These irresponsible public servants will inevitably and invariably tarnish and undermine the efforts of the powers that be to weather through the economic storm.
Undeniably, there are some civil servants, whom I am personally acquainted with, who work extremely hard – conscientiously, passionately and faithfully – to serve the public.
The public servants are the pillar of strength for the government of the day.
We pin our hopes on them to increase productivity to help the nation to fix the people’s problems in these times of economic difficulty, admittedly caused mainly by the global economic downturn and recession, which no nation is impervious to.
Optimistically, our civil servants will respond positively to work doubly hard to hopefully minimise and reduce the rakyat’s hardships in these troubled times. Thomas Kok The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 3 February 2016