05 December 2007

Politicians 'less dependent on civil servants'


PUTRAJAYA: Today's politicians are less dependent on civil servants for advice as they are better educated and "almost experts" at their duties.

Former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Sallehhuddin Mohamed said this was a far cry from the years after independence. "At that time, government officers really played a role as advisers (on policy formulation).

"Now, politicians depend less on senior officers for policy advice as they remain at their ministry for a long time until they become almost experts in that ministry.

"For civil servants, this means that they must continuously upgrade themselves, increase their knowledge and be incorruptible. They must show excellence in their management and handling of responsibilities," he said yesterday after receiving the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) Fellow Award 2007.

The award was presented by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan at a graduation ceremony for 742 civil servants from the professional and management, and diplomatic and administrative groups, who completed management science and public administration courses at Intan.
The Intan Fellow Award honours individuals who have contributed to the nation, especially in public service and administration.

Sallehuddin said civil servants and politicians today had a different and more challenging relationship. This required mutual respect for each other and understanding of each other's roles.

Sallehuddin, whose career with the civil service and government statutory bodies spanned 41 years, said he continued to follow developments in the civil service and political arena closely.

He said it was critical that senior government officers and politicians who dealt with one another enjoyed good relations while civil servants must abide by the principle of neutrality, regardless of the political issues of the day.

In his time as chief secretary (from June 15, 1984 to Feb 1, 1990), Umno split into Team A and Team B (1987), former lord president Tun Salleh Abbas and other judges were sacked (1988), and the mid-1980s financial crisis took place.

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