Tuesday, June 18, 2013




14 JUNE 2013 (FRIDAY)
3.30 PM

Bismillahi rahmaanni rahiim,
Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and Salam 1Malaysia.

YBhg. Dato’ Seri Zainal Rahim Seman
President of the Administrative and Diplomatic Service Association (PPTD);

YBhg. Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal
Director General of Public Service

Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Dato’-Dato’,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

1.        Good afternoon fellow PTD Officers. It is a pleasure to be with the Administrative and Diplomatic Service Association (PPTD) this beautiful afternoon. I am delighted to be here, as this is my first time addressing the Association, since my appointment as Chief Secretary to the Government on 24 June 2012. I congratulate PPTD Muda on successfully organizing this event.

2.        The theme – “PTD: Taking Charge of the Government Transformation Agenda” – was chosen as a result of the concerns faced by the PTD fraternity upon realising that there is an urgent need to evolve ourselves with the needs of contemporary society. This is apt with the heightened expectations of the Government and the rakyat upon us, the policy makers and implementors. We have been entrusted by the Government, to successfully execute the National Transformation Agenda, which has been mapped out for our nation, in our quest towards realising Vision 2020. The various transformation programmes introduced since 2009 are the enablers towards achieving this.

3.        The National Transformation Agenda was introduced with full realisation that without a form of radical intervention, the aspirations and hopes of Vision 2020 would not be attained. Towards this end, the public service, in particular, the PTDs, need to remain relevant. This means that we have to continuously improve ourselves in order to keep up with the changing times. 


Ladies and Gentlemen,

4.        Malaysians are not strangers to reform and reinvention. We must remember that our nation itself was born under circumstances vastly different from where we are today. At the point where Independence was achieved, poverty was widespread, security was threatened by both a violent and growing communist insurgency, as well as neighbouring countries who were mistrusting of us, and of each other. Furthermore, our society was ethnically divided, that many thought it to be ungovernable.

5.        Yet, despite the naysayers’ views, we were able to adopt pragmatic as well as strategic measures that led the country to prosperity:

·     First, by creating governing institutions that would be accountable to a multi-racial society; and
·     Second, by adopting economic reforms that would eventually take us from an agrarian economy to an industrial one.

6.        Since Independence, the Malaysian public service has assumed a multitude of roles in meeting the needs and expectations of the rakyat and relevant stakeholders. It has also assumed the roles of being:
·     advisors and negotiators;
·     service providers;
·     controllers; and
·     facilitators.

PTD officers, in particular, are trained to assume all forms of responsibilities at different levels of the public service – be it at the district level (as DOs), at the federal level (as advisors), and even at the international fora (as diplomats).

7.        In other words, we have always been given the responsibility and trust of being pacesetters and change agents of the country. We are viewed as being highly professional, devoted to public interests, and loyal to the Government of the day, in providing continuous peace, security and stability to the country.

8.           Today, more than ever before, we have our work cut out for us. As global competition for resources, investment, talent, sustainability, and a share of the economic pie intensifies, we should no longer stay in our comfort zones. As society becomes armed with higher levels of educational attainment and access to information, it is common for the public administration to come under heavy scrutiny and criticism; mostly for its (perceived) red tape, inefficiency, sub-par performance, rigidness and lack of independence and accountability.

9.           The various Transformation Programmes that have been initiated by the Government, namely the:
·     Government Transformation Programme (GTP);
·     Economic Transformation Programme (ETP);
·     Political Transformation Programme (PTP); and latest
·     Social Transformation Programme (STP);

among others, aimed  to advance the Government machinery to become more efficient, dynamic, competitive and market-driven.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

10.       Allow me to dwell for a moment on the subject of independence and accountability. There is a highly cited study conducted in 1983 by the late Lloyd Reynolds, who was at that time Economics Professor at Yale University. Reynolds studied the reasons why economic growth had spread to some countries in the developing world and not to others. After analysing growth trends of 40 countries over a period of 130 years, he came to one conclusion: Outweighing capital, labour, education, technology and knowledge, “the single most important explanatory variable (of development) is political organisation and the administrative competence of government.”

11.       For any country to prolong development and prosperity, it must have governing institutions that are accountable to the public interest, as well as be independent enough of politics not to have its credibility called into question. While public officials should be accorded sufficient power to deliver good services, there must be effective mechanisms that ensure the public interest is served, and not special interests. Public services must be aligned to the rakyat’s needs and aspirations, focusing on priorities that matter most to the people and making fundamentals changes to delivering big and fast results.

12.       I cannot emphasise enough the importance of being accountable to the public interest, and ensuring that public interest is served. As PTD officers, I expect all of you to give your best service to the public, the same excellent service that you would expect as a member of the public, in every aspect of your work. This is the core aspect of the concept of "Merakyatkan Perkhidmatan Awam”, which I introduced last year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

13.       As humans, we err. The Government has learned a lot from past short-comings. The “denial syndrome” that sometimes plague Government bureaucracies is something we must discard. To gain public confidence, we have to accept realities and face problems head on. Flaws in policies or standard operating procedures must be acknowledged and rectified.

14.       I would also like to take this opportunity to remind all of us here of the important role that you play in nation building. As the 13th General Elections have come to a close, and the new Cabinet has been announced, we have the responsibility to serve the Government, and ensure the successful implementation of policies and development programmes planned. We must put our personal political opinions aside, and work towards developing the country together.

15.       In our efforts to address the rakyat’s priorities and problems, it is incumbent upon us to reach out, meet, network, engage and talk to them. This can never be done by being detached and confined to the realm of our offices and desks in Putrajaya. Any decision made based on theoretical assumptions is as good as not making one at all. The dynamism of engagement goes well beyond conventional outreach. It entails a commitment to sharing and reciprocity, defined by mutual respect and trust, as espoused by the spirit of 1Malaysia.

Search and Assist

Ladies and Gentlemen,

16.       It is in this context that we should embody the spirit of “Turun Padang” and “Musyawarah” or engagement. Furthermore, I have recently introduced the concept of “Search and Assist” approach for civil servants or “Jejak Mesra Perkhidmatan Awam”, where civil servants should go to the ground instead of waiting for those in need to come to us. I expect all of us not to just wait in our air-conditioned offices, but instead to be pro-active and reach out to the elderly, the poor or the disabled, who are in need of assistance or welfare from the Government, since you have all the facts and figures at hand.

17.       For example, if the media airs the plight of a poor old lady, we can trace her whereabouts and provide assistance. This must apply to all departments, regardless of whether at the federal or state level. If it is not within your jurisdiction, then refer them to the relevant departments, including our colleagues at the District Office.

18.       We should also rise up and fight back against untrue allegations made against the Government and its programmes. We have always been at the receiving end of criticism, and I believe it is time that we address all these allegations, if they are lies with facts and figures. We must defend the good name of the civil service at all times, by fully utilising the new mainstream media; that is the social media. This is my challenge to all of you present today.

19.       Under the present leadership of the country that encourages openness and transparency, people have greater opportunity to express themselves. All sorts of new mediums of communication, including social media, have been leveraged to listen to the views and the grouses of the rakyat. Civil servants need to be social media-friendly and have Twitter and Facebook accounts too, to engage them. In this context, I have a new policy pronouncement to make. All Secretaries-General, Directors-General and Heads of Department should have their own Facebook and Twitter account by tomorrow to engage with the rakyat. 

Challenging Our Paradigms

Ladies and Gentlemen,

20.       This brings me to my next point on the need to always challenge our paradigms and never be afraid of coming up with new ideas and approaches. The culture of innovation, creativity and continuous improvement should be adopted as a work culture at all levels of the organisation. We cannot afford to sit and wait, and then take nothing more than reactionary steps after changes have taken place.


21.       To move beyond the traditional mindset of “business as usual”, our Prime Minister has outlined six core principles, known simply by two acronyms – CTI (Cepat, Tepat dan Integriti) and PCI (Productivity, Creativity and Innovation). Both these acronyms serve as the guiding principles for all civil servants in carrying out their duties.

22.       CTI dictates that we are to deliver swiftly and accurately without compromising our integrity. By holding ourselves to these high standards, we will enhance the public’s confidence that the machinery of the public service system is in good working order. 

23.       PCI on the other hand, caters to the increasing demands of our economy. The Malaysian civil service is constantly faced with the reality that one of its core objectives is to deliver services that add value to the economy. Towards that end, the Government is intensifying its efforts to develop a civil service with a high performance and innovative culture, which will contribute to making us better able to compete with our neighbours for human capital, for tourists, and for investment dollars.

24.       Attaining seamless service delivery is still one of the areas we are grappling with today. Poor coordination amongst public sector agencies has resulted in overlapping of roles and functions as well as wastages in terms of time and resources. The public service agencies must no longer see themselves in isolation, but rather as an integrated part of one government with many agencies, and one delivery system.

Leadership and Talent

25.       Leadership in the public service must also promote working across organisational boundaries and bringing together the various agencies to attain synergy in public service delivery. To instill this culture, leadership however must allow for some calculated risk-taking, experimentation and good judgment. Leaders must encourage their officials to constantly think of new ways of doing things, rather than sticking with business as usual, even when redundant.

26.       PTD officers should strive for high standards of performance with tangible goals and realistic plans to achieve them, especially when we are entrusted to successfully implement the National Transformation Agenda. This would require a change from an input-oriented practice to outcome-based approaches. The outcome-based approach provides transparency. As such, the progress of projects and programmes are more easily monitored.

27.       Demanding a high standard of performance by itself, however, is inadequate if there is no measurement and follow-up action. We are often praised for having the best plans, but unfortunately, often lack in the drive and commitment in its implementation and completion. One cannot deny the fact that this phenomenon will inevitably point towards the talent in public sector organisations.

28.       It is acknowledged that the influence of public service leadership especially PTDs in terms of policy advice, policy implementation and decision making have profound and extensive impact on the life of the rakyat. Nevertheless, the influence has a further line of sight in repercussions if not delivered efficiently. A flawed decision may have tremendous consequences on the society at large.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

29.       I am acutely aware that Malaysian public service leaders are constantly being compared to others around the world, and expectations will continue to grow. Leadership development is both a science as well as an art. It can be constantly built upon to keep abreast of modern demands. This is in line with the adage that “Leaders are made and not born". They develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. As someone entrusted to lead the public service, I too, am constantly striving to better myself as a leader, knowing that the competencies that have gotten me ahead in the past, may well be outdated. If one has the desire and willpower, one can become an effective leader. Good leaders are also committed to developing those around them, to develop a succession plan that will see the organisation through subsequent transformation demands. Succession plan is very important.

30.       As such, talent management should be at the pinnacle of fostering a culture of performance in the public service. To do so, as YAB Prime Minister mentioned yesterday during the launch of Invest Malaysia 2013, we must better manage talent; attracting and retaining people in an ever more competitive global environment if we want to put Malaysia at the heart of the 21st century global economy. The quality of service is determined by the quality of its people.

31.       In the effort to attract and retain the most suitable talent, I sincerely believe in the need for flexibility in recruitment, promotion and deployment of public officers. A new system of recruitment and rewards is extremely wanting in order to attract high performing individuals to join the public service – to re-brand the public service as an employer of choice.

32.       From my observations after being in the civil service for more than 30 years, as PTD Officers and Heads of Departments, we should further refine our human resource management at our office or department. I believe that we need to fulfill three important goals at the work place, namely:

              I.        Equity: to have skills and efforts acknowledged and fairly rewarded through wages, benefits and job security;

             II.        Achievement: to be proud of one’s job, to seek improvement and accomplishment in accordance to world-class standards; and

           III.        Camaraderie: to have good, productive relationships with fellow officers and staffs made up of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

33.       In grooming good leaders, it is crucial that they learn to lead by building relationships with senior leaders who have served as coaches, mentors and teachers. Young leaders tend to learn to lead better from tacit rather than from cognitive knowledge, as apprentices of exemplary leaders.

Concluding Remarks

Ladies and Gentlemen,

34.       In closing, I must acknowledge that although the Public Service has achieved many victories, the journey is far from over. Together, we have to continue to drive the transformation agenda, which requires every PTD officer to bring about paradigm changes in delivering a high-standard of service to the rakyat.  I am confident that we can achieve this objective. I wish to stress again that the rakyat are constantly evaluating our efforts, and we should not allow a situation where we will be judged for failures due to our own shortcomings.

35.       We must take cognizance of the many inhibitions and constraints that will impact the Public Service in rendering the services to the rakyat. Change is difficult. It is a process that must be sustained over time. It is a battle of hearts and minds. To quote George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.  As leaders and administrators, we must have the conviction that what we are doing is the right thing to do, with the best intentions at heart.

36.       I stand confident that ‘PTD Boleh’ and if we move forward as one team (1PTD) in the same direction, InshaaAllah, we will be able to successfully execute, and realise the Government’s Transformation Agenda, as well as to achieve more for the betterment of our country. As the late Tun Abdul Razak, once said, “This is our home and it is our determination to make this country a happy and prosperous country for all of us”.

Thank you.
Wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

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