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30 Mei 2016

EXIT POLICY CAN BE A DOUBLE - EDGED SWORD

NST
30/5/2016


THE important announcement by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa on the new exit policy for the 1.6 million civil servants is most welcome. It has been long-awaited by most Malaysians who want to have a more efficient and effective civil service to bring greater progress to the nation and better service to all Malaysians. It is also timely as it comes after several necessary salary increases, which also call for an increase in productivity.
From now on, under this essential exit policy, civil servants who underperform can and will be sacked from the service. This was never an established policy in the past. Recalcitrant civil servants were rarely penalised; they were just transferred to a different department, and they continued being a part of the civil service.
About 2,680 civil servants have now been identified as underperforming, with a performance score of below 60 per cent.
However, this is a very low proportion of the civil service. The number could be much higher, if the threshold of 60 per cent is raised, as it should be raised, perhaps gradually, as we need much higher performance from our civil servants.
To be fair, even to just start with penalising poor performers is a laudable move under the circumstances and must be commended to encourage the new policy to last.
The question now is, how long will this policy last? Or will it be a flash in the plan, and unsustainable?

The reasons for this critical question:
POLITICIANS, the public and civil service have been quite tolerant of inefficiencies in the past and this may continue to pamper the civil service and condone their underperformance with a tidak apa attitude. Hence, the chief secretary has to be fully backed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his cabinet to ensure that the new exit policy is properly enforced and strictly followed without fear or favour;
THE public and civil service must feel convinced that the appraisals are fair and reasonable. Any perceived abuse of the new exit policy, such as political bias, must be rejected by the civil service. This will discredit the exit policy and make it untenable and unsustainable;
THE overall quality and performance of the civil service must be seen to improve considerably from now on. Any long coffee breaks should cease. Replies from government agencies to the public must be fast.
Administrative policies and practices must be regarded as universally applicable and not selective or subject to corruption and widespread cronyism. There is also a perceived decline in the credibility of the quality of the civil service, as seen in the performance of the Immigration Department and other departments; and
THE support pledged by the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Datuk Azih Muda is praiseworthy. But Cuepacs’s backing must be strong and sustained.
Even if union officials are found to be inefficient and are subsequently sacked, Cuepacs should not interfere.
The exit policy is a bold step forward to enhance the standard of performance of the civil service, which is the backbone in the government’s administration.
It will be readily supported and buttressed by most Malaysians. The public will be pleased with consequentially better performances and have more confidence in good governance!
This exit policy can raise the public’s confidence in the government — if it works effectively and lasts well beyond its introduction. But, it can also be harmful and counterproductive if not implemented with integrity, sincerity and good faith from all sides. In other words, it can be a double-edged sword, if not handled well.
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, Chairman, Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies

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