kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Serving without fear

PERHAPS Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, schooled in the English administrative system, must be thinking aloud on the question of retired senior civil servants questioning the integrity of political masters purportedly intruding into the departments they once headed.

These retirees, few in numbers though, strongly feel that their former departments should not be politicised.

Going by civil service ethics, civil servants must not only be neutral but must be seen to be neutral.

In discharging their official duties, they must serve without fear or favour.

If they are district officers for example, they must serve all strata of society, irrespective of their colour, creed, beliefs and political ideology. As retirees, civil servants are morally bound in maintaining the civil service ethics, especially by those who were once heads of departments.

It is not that they cannot give feedback and be critical of certain actions taken by the Government, but they must be careful to draw the line so as not to be seen as being political bigots.

If they aspire to be politicians then they should openly declare their stand, for politics is a totally different ball game.

The Prime Minister is the president of the ruling party.

The ministers of the respective government ministries are divisional heads of the ruling party.

It is only natural that whatever policies the ruling party decides must be carried out and implemented by the civil servants to the best of their abilities.

The line between politics and administration is grey in certain areas.

Based on patron-client relations, civil servants must be competent enough to advise their political masters on the implications of certain decisions.

By definition we can see that the real power actually lies in the hands of civil servants.

It is the civil servants who can actually prevent their departments from being highly politicised if, and only if, they are men of integrity with no political ambition or personal interest.

Civil servants who are heads of departments must not personalise their relationship with their political masters. They must not be seen at political rallies, unless their presence is required as part of their official duties.

They must know their boundaries as civil servants who serve the government of the day.

Since independence, those who have served the Government can testify that the Malaysian administrative system is not only one of the best in the world, but remains highly apolitical.

Being the strong pillars of the Government structure, the various government departments have withstood the test of time as our political masters are men of impeccable character.

Therefore, it is only right that the Prime Minister expects heads of government departments who have retired, to retire gracefully and not compromise the civil service neutrality by their action which is more political in nature than giving honest constructive criticism.

HASSAN TALIB Gombak, Selangor The STAR Online Home News Opinion Thursday December 13, 2012

Tags: fear, services

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