MCA: “Letter to ‘Uncle Anwar’ opens can of worms about performance of civil service

THE recent letter written by a nine-year-old girl to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over the poor condition of her school’s toilets has exposed the larger issue at hand, which is the performance and delivery of the civil service, said an MCA leader.

Referring to the Prime Minister as “Uncle Anwar”, the schoolgirl named Maryam had expressed hopes that he would visit her school and conduct checks on the condition of the toilets there, adding that there were only two toilets in the school that had toilet bowls.

On this matter, outgoing MCA Ethnic Relations and Religious Affairs Bureau Chairperson Cally Ting Zhao Song said the two working toilets had suggested a “lack of accountability and responsibility commonly associated with the public sector”.

“While citizens may question the reward and penalty appraisal of the civil service, the ‘iron rice bowl’ nature of their jobs has led to a perception, whether correctly or inaccurately, that civil servants are generally apathetic and complacent,” she said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 17).

Ting said the Prime Minister had repeatedly emphasised good governance (tatakelola) which means effective communications and decision-making within the civil service and therefore the rakyat hold high expectations that he will undertake “bold and effective measures” to ensure real transformation within the public sector.

These include implementing unbiased performance appraisals supported with an appropriate reward and penalty system.

“From a political perspective, PMX may motivate civil servants via incentives and other means but from the angle of duty execution, the Prime Minister should also demand quality performance from the public sector,” Ting opined.

“If the premier prefers to act as the ‘good guy’, then the Chief Secretary or another top-ranking official needs to execute the role of a ‘villain’.

“At present, it appears that apathy has taken over the Cabinet as no minister seems willing to undertake the task of a ‘villain’.”

Ting further pointed out that while Malaysian citizens would not outrightly oppose the RM2,000 incentive for civil servants as announced under Budget 2024, the public, in the same vein, hopes that this goodwill measure by the government will lead to “greater accountability, continued enhancement of the public sector’s delivery and efficiency”.

(Pic credit: New Straits Times)

Anwar had shared the letter on his Facebook page and gave his assurance that action will be taken on the matter.

“Thank you, Maryam. I will try to thoroughly and quickly solve this problem for the well-being of the children at school,” the posting said. – Oct 17, 2023


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