New Malaysia’s civil servants must keep it civil of multi-racialism !


Brave new world: The civil service needs to get used to the New Malaysia approach while our ministers need to snap out of the Opposition mode and get down to work.

Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons

by dinobeano

August 16, 2018 Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons by Dr Amar-Singh HSS http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com These Civil Servants pledge to feather their own nest We need to get rid of the culture of censuring those in the civil service who speak up when they see wrong being done. I found the courage to write this […]

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Keeping it civil: The civil service makes up the backbone of any nation, yet the concept of its implementation continues to elude some of the powers that be.

IT’S often said that ministers come and go, but civil servants stay forever. And the good old government machinery runs as before, a fact some of our new ministers will probably be clued into by now.

Ministers who have no experience at state government level may have pre-conceived notions of the privileges they enjoy, like unlimited authority and knowing what they decree would suffice to overrule the bureaucrats.

And that is the biggest mistake they could make as newcomers to Putrajaya, because nothing exemplifies shooting oneself in the foot more than putting down civil servants – they run the ministries, after all.

Making its rounds on the grapevine these days is how some ministers put down their secretaries-general at meetings, believing they know better, or quite possibly, that they can do a better job at improving the performance of their charges.

Some of our ministers were probably not born when British sitcom Yes, Minister (which later became Yes, Prime Minister) aired on BBC Two, and on RTM, from 1980 to 1984.

Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet Minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, it follows the ministerial career of the Right Honourable Jim Hacker.

In it, he attempts, or rather, struggles to formulate and enact laws or effect departmental changes and meets with resistance from the civil service, in particularly his Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The obstructions (sabotages, some would say) were often carried out so deftly that the minister would often rarely know what hit him or possess a trail of evidence to prove insubordination.

In fact, the delays (such as total rejection of policy) were cited to impress upon the minster that the shenanigans were for the benefit of his political mileage.

But of course, the sitcom was totally fictional and in real life, not all civil servants could get away like that.

Respected banker and commentator Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid wrote that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had put together a Cabinet with a mix of races and genders, and a range of ages, which is unprecedented in the political governance of our country. However, except for a handful of ministers, the Cabinet falls short on experience.

Dr Munir urged Pakatan ministers to get out of “Opposition mode” so they can function and deliver with all the advice and support available.

“They would need to get the government machinery – the civil service – to implement their decisions effectively.

“Here, there is another problem. The largely Malay civil service is not used to having political masters committed to a multi-racial Malaysia and a no-nonsense regime,” he wrote.

That simply means our ministers, who have been used to merely delivering fiery speeches, now need to roll up their sleeves and get down to work and show the fruits of their labour. They can only blame the ills and corruption of the previous government to an extent.

A few ministers, and even the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, must now grapple with all the documents being in Bahasa Malaysia, unlike in the private sector where the medium of communication is English.

Their staff would most likely be entirely Malay, except for their aides, who are political appointees. Directives would be issued in an entirely different way, obviously reflected by the work culture and style of communication.

That is just how the civil service works, so, they simply need get used to it. Of course, stories of all this being a culture shock for some have surfaced recently.

Dr Munir reminded that “there is still some way to go to arrive at a New Malaysia in terms of multi-racialism. After two generations of ‘Malay First’ and subsequently ‘Malay and Muslim First’ political ethic, there is a mountain to climb to make it New Malaysia.”

The reality is that about 75% of the Malay electorate in GE14 voted for Umno or PAS, in comparison to 95% of the Chinese voters who voted for Pakatan Harapan (an increase from the 85% who supported the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition in 2013). About 70% – 75% of Indians voted for PH, the figures show.

It has been reported that only 25% – 30% of Malays voted for PH, according to figures from Merdeka Centre. Apparently, 35% – 40% of Malays voted for Barisan Nasional while 30% – 33% supported PAS.

The findings displayed that although a higher percentage of Malays voted for Pakatan Harapan in Johor and in west coast states such as Melaka and Negri Sembilan, the coalition’s overall Malay support was diminished by its weak performance in Kelantan and Terengganu.

It’s no secret that as the new government reaches its 100-day mark, some ministers are still struggling to assemble their offices.

It’s just as well that some have yet to meet the press or make statements, because they are still learning to juggle the workload as others continue their scramble to find the ideal personnel.

The job has been so overwhelming that they have been unable to meet their key officers to solidify plans and directions.

With no appointments in sight, some staff are wondering if they are being snubbed, or simply that the ministers are too busy with other engagements. It doesn’t help that they don’t even reply messages.

But the civil service needs to accept that this is New Malaysia. There is no turning back. The culture of openness, accountability, engagement and success must take centre stage, with any form of prejudice left by the wayside.

The strategy of using race and religion to stir emotions seems hollow now.

Millions of ringgit were stolen from the people by those in power, and as the facts have revealed, they weren’t Chinese, Indians or Christians, contrary to what these politicians still want the Malays to believe.

And certainly, the civil servants who sniffed out the moral decay under their very noses knew exactly what was happening.

Clean, trustworthy and competent ministers, and a loyal, non-corrupt and efficient civil service will make Malaysia great.

After all, as the saying goes, it doesn’t matter what colour the cat is, as long it catches the mice.

In this context, what’s important is surely them being good Malaysians.

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and
has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star

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A Christmas wake-up call


BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 23:  Santas-to-be w...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

PUTIK LADA By RAPHAEL KOK

Christmas is the time for us to redeem and reconcile our relationships with people that we care about. It’s a time for us to remember and rekindle the passions in life that we dream about.

IT all began in a little town called Bethlehem, where a baby was born in a manger. Over centuries, it has captured the joys of wintertime like listening to sleigh bells ringing, building snowmen in the meadow and roasting chestnuts on an open fire.With or without snowfall, Santa Claus always comes to town whenever the season is upon us, in the malls and on the streets.

Today, Christmas is no longer just a religious or cultural festival celebrated in the West, but a global event transcending race, religions and cultures.

Much of its universal appeal lies in the values embodied in the spirit of Christmas. The highlight at any Christmas party, whether hosted by Christian families, schools, offices or friends, is the exchange of gifts.

Christmas is about goodwill to all and sharing between loved ones.

Of course, cynics would say that Christmas also epitomises the sin of greed, considering how much people spend on Christmas decorations, shopping and parties.

However, that says more about human nature, rather than Christmas itself. After all, how we celebrate Christmas is very much like how we celebrate life.

In life, just like during Christmas, we expect to be rewarded for the good things we have done. Life, just like Christmas, is about dreams and desires.

True, more often than not, they are materialistic in nature. True, we always want to have more than what we already have, and that there is no end to dreams and desires.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Instead, where we go wrong is not knowing what we truly want out of life. We instead want things that bring little value to our lives.

We crave for more clothes, cars, properties and sources of physical affection. We crave for the same things we already have in abundance, except in different designs, colours and sizes.

We are like kids crying out for toys, ice-cream and a playmate, with no time to think of the consequences.

However, there’s got to be more to life than chasing every temporary high.

Just like Lord Buddha centuries ago, Mark Zuckerberg exhorts us to eliminate desires. Not just any desire, but desires that don’t really matter to us to begin with, or any more.

Having desires is not greedy. Having false desires is.

Our fragile minds, wrecked by insecurities, are always vulnerable to being incepted by foreign ideas. We constantly worry about what others think of us, and what they tell us we should be like.

Not only are we weighed down by excess material and emotional baggage, but we are also forced to abandon our own innermost dreams and desires.

Only when you have eliminated your false desires, will you discover what you want, what you really want.

Basically, start doing the things you have always dreamt of doing but never did because you kept telling yourself “Not this weekend, there’s a sale”, “Not this month, peak period” and “Not this year, saving for a bigger car”.

And it doesn’t just stop there. If you fail to recognise the things that truly give you joy, chances are that you will fail to recognise the things that truly give joy to the rest of the world.

Getting a gift for someone is never easy. We can’t read minds.

Sure, you may ask them what they want, but that’s rather spoiling the whole idea of a gift or they may be too embarrassed to reveal their innermost dreams and desires to you anyway.

The true value of a gift is not how much it’s worth to the giver or anyone else, but to the recipient.

How much the person appreciates the gift is a measure of how much you actually know and care for the person.

As noble as our intentions may be, the act of giving itself is simply not enough. Yes, it’s the thought that counts. But with more thought put into a gift, the more value the gift has.

So make your gifts count, be it to your family, friends or lover.

Don’t just go for the safe gifts like chocolates, Hallmark greeting cards, mugs or even expensive jewellery.

Make an effort to think hard about what the person truly wants. It may be something the person never even thought about having.

Don’t just buy something off the shelf. Forget about the price tag.

Be original. Go the distance. Fly to the moon and back. Like writing a song for your girlfriend that she can tell everybody this is her song. Don’t just say “I Love You”, say “I Love Us”.

Sometimes, the greatest gift is simply changing the way we treat others. Like being more obedient to your Mum and Dad. Or stop yelling and giving unreasonable deadlines to your employees.

And instead of just giving away monetary handouts such as bonuses, subsidies or salary increases every year, governments should also give its people greater freedom to express themselves.

As a wise prophet once said, man does not live by bread alone.

People should also be entitled to ask questions like “Who is producing and selling this bread, was there an open tender exercise?” and “Why do I only get one loaf, and my neighbour gets two?” without fear of persecution.

Whoever we are, rich or poor, Christmas ultimately serves as a wake-up call for us to change our lives for the better.

It’s the time for us to redeem and reconcile our relationships with people that we care about. It’s a time for us to remember and rekindle the passions in life that we dream about.

There’s something magical about Christmas. It’s the magic that makes us believe in miracles, and make miracles happen. It’s the magic that makes us rediscover our freedom and power to dream.

So, although it’s been said many times, many ways – have yourself a merry little Christmas, for now and always.

The writer is a young lawyer. Putik Lada, or pepper buds in Malay, captures the spirit and intention of this column – a platform for young lawyers to articulate their views and aspirations about the law, justice and a civil society. For more information about the young lawyers, visit http://www.malaysianbar.org.my

Malaysia establishes diplomatic ties with Vatican Papal


Pope Benedict XVI and Malaysia PM Najib Razak in Castel Gandolfo (18 July 2011)

Pope Benedict XVI and Malaysia PM Najib Razak in Castel Gandolfo (18 July 2011) The Vatican said the talks between the two leaders had been “cordial”

The Vatican and Malaysia have agreed to establish diplomatic ties, following a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The move comes after years of talks between the Catholic Church and the government of majority-Muslim Malaysia.

Mr Najib’s visit was said to have been intended to reassure Christians in his country, who have long complained of discrimination.

Ethnic and religious tensions have risen ahead of expected national polls.

On Monday Mr Najib met the Pope at his summer home near Rome.

In a statement, the Vatican said that during their “cordial conversations, the positive developments in bilateral relations were discussed and an agreement was reached to establish diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See”.

The Vatican said the two leaders had also discussed the importance of cultural and religious dialogue for the promotion of peace, Associated Press news agency reports.

Mr Najib’s meeting with the Pope is significant for Malaysia’s Christian community, which makes up about 9% of the population.

Malaysia’s constitution promises freedom of worship to all faiths, but a string of religious disputes in recent years has raised fears among the country’s religious minorities that their rights are being eroded, says the BBC’s Kuala Lumpur correspondent Jennifer Pak.

Pigs heads

In 2009 the authorities tried to enforce a ban on Christians using the word “Allah” when referring to God in the Malay language – Christian leaders said the word had been used in their bibles for decades.

The authorities’ efforts heightened tensions, leading to arson attacks on churches and tit-for-tat defacing of mosques, including the leaving of pigs’ heads at doorways to Islamic prayer halls.

Ramon Navaratnam, who works for a Malaysian inter-faith council, said earlier that forming ties with the Vatican would give the concerns of Christians a better hearing.

“We now will be saying things the way we have, what is right, what is wrong, what we like, what we don’t like about religious freedoms or the lack of it, and we know we will have somebody in the Vatican who would be able to at least talk to them, the government, privately and say ‘look, we can’t accept this. Please moderate your views’,” he said.

Mr Navaratnam said the government could no longer ignore religious minorities, most of whom are ethnically Chinese and Indian.

However, some Malay Muslim groups have become more vocal in demanding privileges and support from the government.

In 2008, Chinese and Indian minorities across Malaysia, who are mainly Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, abandoned the government and voted for the opposition.

Many complained of racism and a lack of religious freedom.

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