Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Be efficient servant

Be efficient servants, set benchmark against the best
By Anis Ibrahim

Malaysian civil servants should test their competency against high standards — like comparing them to their counterparts in countries known for efficiency. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who said this today, also wants the civil service to make enhancing efficiency its top priority.

It must constantly renew and reinvent itself in line with changing needs and expectations of leaders and the public.

He said the top five efficient governments were Hong Kong, Singapore, Finland, Denmark and Australia.

"Our public sector should look at how best to benchmark itself against the best governments," he said.

He admitted that notwithstanding Malaysia’s good progress, the public service was "far from perfect".

Quoting the Geneva-based Institute for Management Development, Najib said that in terms of government efficiency, Malaysia had dropped from number 16 last year to 26th placing this year. This, he said, did not speak well of the nation’s achievements made in the last few years.

While Malaysians should be mindful of external assessments and look carefully at the criteria applied, the institute’s research seemed to indicate that the country’s efforts were not good enough.

"We may be improving but our competitors are improving to a much greater extent.

"I would, therefore, strongly ask the public sector to make improving government efficiency its top agenda," urged Najib.

He also believed that if the human capital of the one million-strong civil service were maximised, developed nation status could be reached before 2020.

"The challenge is whether we have the determination to walk that extra mile to make a difference in our work," he said.

In his keynote address at the 10th Civil Service Conference, Najib called for a new breed of civil servants — those who possess strong analytical capabilities with the ability to generate well thought-out policy options.

Public servants must also strive to become part of a high reliability workforce, namely, one which is professional, has unquestionable integrity, is citizen-focused and innovative.

Najib pointed out that professionalism was not limited to being guided by a code of conduct. It also meant doing their very best to help an organisation achieve its goals.

"For civil servants, it simply means serving the interest of the public and not yourselves," said Najib.

The two-day conference is organised by the National Institute of Public Adminstration (Intan) and the Administrative and Diplomatic Service Association.

NST 13/9/2005

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