Friday, July 23, 2010

Civil servant & Politic

The term civil service has two distinct meanings:

A branch of governmental service in which individuals are employed on the basis of professional merit as proven by competitive examinations. The body of employees in any government agency other than the military.

A civil servant or public servant is a civilian public sector employee working for a government department or agency. The term explicitly excludes the armed services, although civilian officials will work at "Defence Ministry" headquarters. The term always includes the (sovereign) state's employees; whether regional, or sub-state, or even municipal employees are called "civil servants" varies from country to country.

Article 132 of the Constitution of Malaysia stipulates that the Public Service consist of:

the General Public Service of the Federation
the State Public Services
the Joint Public Services
the Education Service
the Judiciary and the Legal Service
the Armed Forces

For all intents and purpose, Statutory Bodies and the Local Authorities are also considered as part of the Public Service. This is because both these autonomous bodies resemble the Public Service in many respects since they adopt the procedures of the Public Service pertaining to appointments, terms and conditions of service and the remuneration system. Besides that, their officers and staff also receive pension and other retirement benefits similar to the employees in the Public Service.

Federal Public Service (excluding the Education Service, Judiciary & Legal Service, Police and Armed Forces) are appointed by Federal Public Service (excluding the Education Service, Judiciary & Legal Service, Police and Armed Forces). State Public Services in Selangor and Penang are appointed by Public Service Commission (Federal), but other states are appointed their respective state public service commission. No matter who appointed them, the public servants. The civil service is a politically non-partisan and neutral body, with all its officers supposed to function and operate impartially in the implementations of the policies, programmes, and projects of the elected government.

A government is the organization, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects. The government in Malaysia, either federal or state is elected by people. The head of federal government is the Prime Minister; the head of the state government is either the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar. A Chief Minister is the elected [head of government] of a sub-national (e.g. constituent federal) state, the title given to the heads of governments of the Malaysia states without a monarchy.

Civil servants, federal or state level are not under the control of any political parties, be it the government party or opposition. The operational authority over them is the Prime Minister in federal level or Chief Minister in state level. If he is a federal level civil servant under the federal ministries, he is directly under the Prime Minister, with delegated authority given to federal Minister for respective ministries. If he is posted to the state, he has also have doted line responsibility to the state Chief Minister. He is still a civil servant and need to exercise impartially for the benefit of people in the state he have been posted. His role cannot in conflict with the state policies and direction. If he is going against the state policy and direction, and sabotage the state, he is not doing his job as civil servant. If there is role conflict, he should refer to his immediate Head, the Minister. The Minister should decide on the matter with no bias on his own political inclination(even he is appointed through his political party) as it is a civil matter, not political matter. The Minister should then take the matter to the Chief Minister of the state. If the Minister see no chance of any resolution, he as federal head should act responsibly as head of civil service, consider transfer the staff out of the state, to avoid aggravating the situation. If the unfortunate situation escalate to become the conflict between the federal minister and state chief minister, it is consider a crisis, and the state is difficult to function. It then become a political crisis.

There must be communication between the federal minister and the state minister; otherwise the government cannot function. The federal government will be seen as acting with discrimination against the people of the state. The state government is seen as not able to administrate the state. The people of the state will suffer. A responsible federal government or state government will not let this happen. Is the communication actually exist? Is there any communication between the federal government and the state government ruling by different political parties?.

Under the civil servants' code of conduct, no civil servant is allow to make any public statement that could tarnish the government's image; no involvement by the public servant with the political party is allowed to fight his case, as civil servant must not involved the political party into their work and civil service. He can however using legal channel or other internal grievance procedure to fight his case. The Chief Minister is still the Head of state government elected by people; if the said civil servant is posted to the state, he is to serve the state government elected by people, regardless of political inclination. If he cannot work with the state for whatever reason, he should responsibly ask for transfer. A civil servant is not a politician, he should not act like a politician, that is professionalism.

If the Chief Minister feel that the said civil servant cannot function in his role or his role has conflict the state policy, and the state policy has been sabotage; it is always the right of the Chief Minister to request the federal to move him out as the state no longer can function with him. A formal request for his transfer should be requested.

A civil servant, regardless of federal or state must be able to function with the state policies and direction; if not, there is no place for him to be in the state. As a professional, he should have ask for transfer or be transfer by the said Ministry. He must not act in any way that cause detriment to the state government. By acting against the interest of the state, he is also violating the code of conduct.

He must always remember he is a civil servant, his role is to serve the people; state or federal. The Chief Minister is the representative of the people in the state. He is not serving the government party, not Barisan National or Pakatan.........the Chief Minister as the Head of state government is still his boss.

However the issue that happen in the state, the spar between a civil servant and Chief Minister, is not a simple issue. Behind the issue there is the bigger problem of relationship between the federal government and state government ruling by different political parties; the fair allocation of federal fund; the channel that the federal fund are released; how and where the federal fund is released, the frustration of the Chief Minister of opposition party, the barrier and denial of communication channel, and the most important reason is still the hidden political agenda behind the incident.

Ultimately it is still political games; fighting between two political parties. The civil servant should not be involved in the political agenda of the political party. He should know his job function, and professionally do his work. That is his responsibility to the civil service and the people; not to the political party, even a ruling political party. But the problem with many local civil servant, they have been working under the government ruled by the same political parties for so long, and may have perception that the government is the ruling party. There is a role conflict in their mentality, it will be worst if the appointment is by the said political party or recommendation by the party. They will be in dilemma... and it reflect that there is still political influence in the civil service.

It is the responsibility of Public Service Commission to educate their staff of their responsibility and professionalism. The civil servant must be neutral in discharging their duty without any political inclination. The said Commission should be a non-political biased authority, under the non-political Head.

Let not the spar between the civil servant & Chief Minister become political issue, the state will suffer. Now the ball is at the federal are they going to solve the issue involve the federal civil servant? Until today, it is only political talk at federal level, without any concrete action to solve the problem. May be, even the federal minister also wearing a political hat and forgot about the other hat they wear, the appointment as a federal Minister and as head of the ministry. They are playing political magic by changing of hats often. Political games should be over for politician with government post, he is wearing a government hat, A government is the organization, or agency through which a political unit exercises its authority, controls and administers public policy, and directs and controls the actions of its members or subjects. His political hat should put behind, when doing his duty as Head of Government. Rightfully he should discharge his duty without political bias, but how many are able to do it in our local political environment?......

Ultimately, federal or state government, if unable to function effectively they still need to face the people during the next election. That will be the time to see the feeling of the people on the issue.

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