Monday, 21 February, 2005

Malaysia's uncivil civil servants

By Jonathan Kent
BBC, Kuala Lumpur

Bad-tempered civil servants in Malaysia are to be sent on courtesy courses to teach them to smile and be helpful.
A government report published on Monday said the country's 850,000 bureaucrats were seen as rude and lazy - and recommended they learn better manners.
It also suggested that undercover officials pose as members of the public to monitor the employees' performance.
According to one local satirist, Malaysia's bureaucracy works on a points system.
You approach the civil servant of your choosing and he or she then points you to a different one.
It is a game that can last a few hours, days, months or even years.
The government's chief secretary, Samsudin Osman, said he had been on the receiving end of just such poor service.
So he has now ordered the paper-pushers back to college, to learn how to smile, answer the telephone politely and treat clients properly.
Departmental heads have been told to carry out surprise checks on their staff.
That includes ringing in on the same numbers the public use to see what, if any, answer they receive.
Malaysians often complain that civil servants seem to view work as a distraction between tea breaks - or as something that interrupts their enjoyment of Latin American soap operas screened on local television.
Some foreign businesses also cite the poor service as one reason they are reluctant to set up shop in Malaysia.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi won a sweeping general election victory last year with promises to make the civil service more efficient, and to cut corruption.

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"