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Saturday, December 13, 2008

RETHINKING GOVERNMENT POLICY

[Image taken from New South Wales Government website]

RAPERAs have you thought about how government policies actually come into being and how often they are reviewed? Of course some of the policies are discussed at the cabinet meetings but most of these policies do not originate from the cabinet members. Occasionally you may have the PM himself proposing a policy such as Look East or Islam Hadhari. It must come various other sources – mostly from Ministries and government agencies (translated: civil servants again). Cabinet discussions of these policies surely cannot be conducted at great length and depth due to obvious constraints. What may be discussed is the general policy, its general effects and matters generally related to implementation.

SO this begs the question: who actually crystallizes the policies and gives meaning to it in its daily implementation? It is not uncommon in this country for policies to be misunderstood and wrongly interpreted by the implementers (again, civil servants). We have seen before several “Islamic” policies of the government to be translated to mean that Muslims cannot greet non-muslims and such.

The process of crystallization of the policy is important, assuming we have already crossed the first hurdle of evaluating the need and usefulness of the policy itself. Some policies are not only outdated but burdensome to the Rakyat and costly. One example is some of the official forms that one has to fill up at some of the government departments. It is thus important that qualified people both in terms of knowledge, diligence and attitude are involved in the crystallization process.

Having had some experiences with many of them over the past years, with respect, I largely doubt their credentials. The problem is their attitude. The younger ones that I had the pleasure of knowing over the more recent years are a breath of fresh air. They have shed this dubious Malay culture of “tatasusila mesyuarat” in place of the Islamic value of critical debate, evaluation and passionate involvement in the responsibilities at hand. (The older puny napoleons must really take a quick exit, especially those whose main priority in meetings is to hear themselves being addressed as “Datuk”, “Tan Sri” or “Tuan haji”)

Government policies need to be reviewed periodically, especially those that affect the Rakyat on a daily basis. In this review process, old laws may need to be repealed and new laws put in place. Datuk Azmi Khalid, for example, when he was the Minister of “Kementerian Sumber Asli dan Alam Sekitar”, made several very important observations and suggestions that relating to rivers, the Environmental Act and the roles of the PBT. Has there been follow-up by the new Minister or the relevant agencies?

This is another thing: - some Ministers actually do make good public suggestions but nobody follows it up. Now, we see Azmi Khalid again as PAC chairman making good suggestions again in the aftermath of the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy. The more important issue is: who is going to follow it up? If there is none, then make someone responsible from today.

We need serious people to relook at many of the Government polices. We need serious people who will work to implement the policies well and in a way that will not unreasonably burden the Rakyat. This can be done if there is political will and if the politicians will start working for a change instead of making “syok sendiri” statements which insults the Rakyat’s intelligence.

Once again, I say this: we need radical leadership who are passionate about improving the country. It is not difficult really…start with removing deadwood and blockages and the standard of “average” will instantly rise!

What are your views on government policies?

2 comments:

Bulans said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jahamy said...

Bulans,

hoegardens talks well !

maybe we should actually scrutinize the relevant qualifications of the Minsters.

Can someone do a list please for our education?