WITH the advent of electronic social networking and liberalisation of our laws, Malaysians are better exposed to the workings of the government machinery and better able to assess them.
We are also very concerned with the level of enforcement of our laws. Enforcement is generally regarded as weak. The reason is the negative perception of civil servants tasked with implementing our laws.
Most Malaysians are happy with the improved services in government hospitals and clinics. Health officials are efficient and act fast to counter any possibility of disease outbreak. We feel blessed by the peace and prosperity. Teachers must be doing a fine job, considering the employability of our students and the acceptability of our graduates in leading universities throughout the world.
A report disclosed in Parliament by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim recently, however, indicated that thousands of civil servants have been sacked or reprimanded for abuse of power and indiscipline. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested thousands others for corrupt practices.
This situation is dismal. Unethical acts of civil servants are the antithesis to the responsibilities accorded to them to ensure the nation's administration are efficiently run and government assets are optimally used.
They are expected to enforce laws introduced by the government with fairness and justice.
Yet, we see some officers flouting the laws. Smuggling along Sungai Golok has been going on unchecked for years, illegal immigrants are loitering in our streets and villages, forests are being illegally cleared, and illegal settlements and businesses have sprung up. Similarly, wrongs committed by the public are overlooked.
We hear of the elite being given government contracts without going through open bidding. We also see rules and regulations not enforced on questionable circumstances.
It is not right to expect ordinary citizens to make reports of wrong-doings of civil servants to anti-graft bodies before action is taken to arrest guilty parties. Measures must be continuously taken to prevent corrupt practices.
In developed countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore and Hong Kong, civil servants are perceived to perform their work sincerely and to the best of their abilities. This creates societies which are orderly, law-abiding and trusting of their respective governments. In countries where civil servants are perceived to be corrupt and few are punished, it leads to further graft, and reduced productivity.
Transparency International has always placed Malaysia very low in a survey of countries in its Corruption Perception Index. The ranking is very influential among the international community. One can, therefore, expect Malaysia's low ranking to discourage the flow of investment into the country.
Unless something is done to remove the negative public perception of the civil service, the government will continue to lose creditability. A host of malaise will befall the country. The economy will suffer. Political anarchy and its negative aftermath will ensue.
The government must have the political will to take all measures to curb corrupt practices and punish offenders. Such strong actions would serve as a motivating factor to civil servants to take their responsibilities seriously. Corruption undermines their efficiency in implementing government policies and the laws of the nation. Syed Azauddin, Gombak, Selangor. NST Letters 14 JULY 2014 @ 8:08 AM