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The restoration of institutional independence, impartiality and non-partisan character the only way to check political abuses and interference
He said they should not succumb to pressure from VVIPs as guidelines and procedures – and not VVIPs – govern the work ethics of civil servants.
One of the things which had gone very wrong in the past two decades, particularly under the 22-year premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was the compromise of the political neutrality, independence and impartiality of the civil service as civil servants were treated as appendages to the ruling parties at the beck-and-call of ruling coalition politicians at all levels.
The important distinctions between government and political party were completely blurred and violated, becoming a rule instead of an exception – resulting in the discriminatory misuse and abuse of government facilities, resources and funds for Barisan Nasional political purposes which were denied to the Opposition.
With such “Third World” mentality and mindset regarding the civil service and public funds as being at the disposal of the ruling coalition politicians, it is no surprise that VVIPs who invariably have the right political party connections and MPs have no qualms in abusing their positions in their interactions with civil servants.
The case of the Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof abusing his parliamentary privilege in asking the Malacca Customs and Excise Department to “close one eye” on the illegal import of sawn timber by his company, Binyu Sof Enterprise – which had been admitted by Said – is probably only the tip of the iceberg and the real reason why there is such great reluctance on the part of the Barisan Nasional MPs (except for the MP for Johore Baru Datuk Shahrir Samad) to do what is right in referring him to the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges.
It must be very demoralizing not only for the Customs and Excise Department but the entire civil service that in a clear-cut case of Said’s abuse of privilege, Barisan Nasional MPs, who constitute 92 per cent of Parliament, could gang up in a conspiracy to “save” the Jasin MP from being hauled before the Committee of Privileges.
The Chief Secretary’s advice to civil servants not to succumb to pressures from VVIPs and MPs is of no use if VVIPs and MPs could get away with impunity and immunity when they threw their weight around and abused their positions in trying to interfere with the civil service.
Mohd Said is a comparatively small fry. If it is so difficult to bring Mohd Said to justice, i.e. referred to the Committee of Privileges in Parliament and the courts for conflict-of-interests, how can civil servants be assured that they will not be penalized if they stand their ground to strictly follow guidelines and procedures?
If Samsudin is serious about protecting the civil service from interference by VVIPs, including Barisan Nasional MPs and politicians, he should ensure that the civil service is restored its institutional position of political neutrality, independence and impartiality which it had lost in the past two decades.