Change has to be encouraged

Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak

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Source_Star: Change has to be encouraged THE STAR SAYS . . .

The Prime Minister has called on civil servants to be brave and make changes to conditions and regulations hindering government plans from being executed effectively.

Addressing a special year-end gathering for Finance Ministry staff last Thursday, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak pointed out that they should not hesitate to make a “bumpy or rocky path” smooth.

The Prime Minister’s reminder is timely, considering that Malaysia is now embarking on a major transformation initiative. But the courage to make changes is not automatic.

Even in the private sector, there are many companies that prefer their workers not to rock the boat. Many managers frown upon those who are brave, or foolish enough, to want to suggest changes.

So, when you consider the civil service, the challenge to change may seem too formidable a task. Be that as it may, we must acknowledge that there have been many changes, especially in the front-line agencies, that have made life easier for the people. Pemudah, the body that brought together top people in the public and private sectors to help smoothen the delivery system, has done a wonderful job in this respect.

Likewise, the work of Pemandu in driving the Government Transformation Programme has resulted in positive changes in many areas. But it is also a fact of life that there is a massive structure within the civil service that operates beyond public scrutiny and accountability.

So what the Prime Minister is suggesting, perhaps, is that even without official directives, these civil servants must be brave enough to innovate and initiate changes if they feel this would help make things run smoothly. Let us take the recent example of traffic summonses which resulted in long queues and computer breakdowns.

This is a perennial problem that provides an opportunity for the police and other civil servants to come up with solutions. We should not have to wait for some major policy decision to be announced or for some private company to grab the opportunity to sell its solutions to the Government.

The real challenge, therefore, is to provide an environment within the civil service where people down the ranks are rewarded for coming up with creative solutions to any existing problem. Then they will not only be brave but be more than willing to make changes.

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