26 July 2010

Report politicians who seek favours, civil servants told

By Sarban Singh, TheStar

SEREMBAN: Civil servants must report to their superiors in writing if they are asked “favours” by politicians and the well-connected in the awarding of government contracts.
The directive covers recommendations of sila timbangkan (please consider), disokong dengan kuat (strongly recommended) and saya tiada halangan (no objections) made in all forms – written, spoken, email, telephone call or SMS – for contracts, permits, licences, citizenship and scholarship awards.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Sidek Hassan, who made this clear in a recent circular, stressed that all decisions must be based on merit.

“Recommendations made by politicians or influential people should not in any way influence the decisions of the Government. We have come up with a comprehensive set of rules to check this because civil servants are often caught in a bind with requests or recommendations from politicians and influential people,” he stated in the circular.

Sidek said any recommendation received in writing must be attached to the application file.

“If the favour is sought verbally, then the details of this communication, such as time and date, must be written and attached with the particular application,” he said, adding that once this was done, the civil servant concerned must report it in writing to his superior for further instructions.

If the civil servant is unable to do so for any particular reason, then he or she should report the matter to the government agency concerned.

“If the favour sought or recommendation made is related to a government contract, the matter should be reported to the Finance Ministry.

“If it is regarding permits or licences, then it should be referred to the relevant agencies,” he said, adding that if the favour sought was connected to a corruption or abuse of power case, the civil servant must report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the directive was timely to prevent the abuse of power.

“Although most decisions are made based on provisions of the law, it is better to have such a rule so that there will be more transparency,” he said.

Omar said on the other hand, there were also civil servants who were active in politics and had easy access to politicians and could easily seek favours and recommendations from them.

“There are cases where civil servants had themselves obtained recommendations from ministers or Members of Parliament for scholarships and places in university for their children.

“Some even ask recommendations to get promotions. When this happens, it becomes a disadvantage to those who are not well connected,” he added.