PUTRAJAYA: Civil servants must give their honest opinions and not be mere "yes men" when asked for their views on government policies, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said today (July 3, 2006).
He said the government did not want civil servants to first say "yes", and then later say "no" when it came time to implement a policy.
Such double standards cannot be tolerated and must be corrected, he said during the monthly gathering of the Prime Minister's Department.
Najib said if a minister sought an officer's view about a policy for implementation, "listen properly first, understand the issue and give your views".
There were some civil servants who, even without listening fully to the explanation, would say, "Yes, I agree."
He said the government wanted civil servants to give their honest views, even if they were disagreeable.
"I don't think our ministers are that arrogant and can't accept the views of others. If our views are wrong, please tell us," he said.
Najib said any country's success depended on the strength of the civil service, and Malaysia was no exception.
"The civil service supports the government of the day. We do not play politics. From my experience, civil servants have been very loyal to the government," he said.
Najib also called on civil servants to provide "service beyond the ordinary" and asked them to change the way they work.
"If a telephone operator picks up the phone after six rings, this should be changed to after three rings, and the call should be answered with a smile," he said.
"I think those who handle approvals should also change it from the current one-month waiting period to maybe less."
Najib also told the civil servants at the assembly that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is in Perth for a holiday, had undergone a minor surgery for sinus and was fine.