The Whisky Priest

The business of government is really tricky. It is a very complex mixture and infusion of arts and science of administration, politics, management, economic planning, reporting and managing expectations. It is an enigma of many variances, running parallel.

In the midst of dealing with the complexity of challenges, some politicians are bent of preserving their position and power, more than anything else. Where as the civil servants who are supposed to execute the operations of the government, are either confused on the inconsistent policies, directions and the whims and fancies of ministers whenever there is a Cabinet reshuffle.

Or as experienced administrative professionals, they have their own interpretations. And they work against their political masters in their own ‘little kingdom’, supported by an elite group of trusted lieutenants.

At times, it has been often wondered whether persons in these political and/or administrative positions suffer from the ‘moral vacuum’ syndrome. In sundry, concert or even in isolation.

When it comes to a juncture that would lead into a conundrum or crisis, they have the ‘alternative avenue’ instead of doing the right thing. They might work in tandem to cover their own tracks. So they adopt The Rhodesia Solution’.

“You write a note that is susceptible to misinterpretations”.

In the end, issues are not addressed. Compounded enigma of problems are swept under the carpet. They have their on intelligent mannerism to explain their position, even manipulate figures and analysis. Especially now in the age of KPIs and NKRA.

In short, they allowed for a ‘Systemic Failure’. And perpetrators go scot free.

Published in: on June 17, 2013 at 23:00  Comments (9)  

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  1. I believe the majority of civil servants with tertiary qualifications and the ability to fully understand the Constitution of the country are aware of, and maintain the need for preserving values based on the Constitution.

    The majority in the Administrative and Diplomatic Service are Malays and they want the provision in the Constitution pertaining to the Special Position of the Malays and the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak not only preserved, untouched and unquestioned – as protected under the Sedition Act – but also promoted, and they want the NEP actively implemented. Not muted under Najib’s New Economic Model and “liberalization” policies.

    Yes, like shown in the British comedy series “Yes Minister”, there are occasions when the civil servants “get around” the wishes of the political masters when policies are not quite in line with their interpretations of the Constitution. After all, the Constitution is the highest set of laws in the country. “Getting around” does include delaying by various means, including setting up committees etc.

    I think that Najib has had difficulties in getting civil servants follow the “transformation” programme, and he even resorted to getting a relatively junior Officer appointed as the Chief Secretary to the Government, side-stepping several more senior Officers. With a civil service built upon the age-old tradition of “seniority”, this may have resulted in more “getting around” down the line of the civil service hierarchy, and BD’s post article mentions of them being “supported by an elite group of trusted lieutenants.”

    Even after the Chinese tsunami, Najib still talked about rushing to a developed nation status ahead of 2020 – no mention of NEP in appreciation of the Malays and the rural voters who gave UMNO 88 seats. Resentment has been expressed here and there. UMNO delegates may want to remove him at the Perhumpunan Agong UMNO in November.

    • Setuju. Until and unless DS Najib show gratitude to the Malays who voted UMNO at PRU13, announces his own commitment to the NEP and programmes for the Malay agenda, he ought to be treated with doubts on UMNO and BN leadership.

      The biggest Malay agenda is ownership of wealth in the country in all aspects of the economy – not just corporate wealth. No need to be concerned about affecting foreign investments – they can be explained as being in line with the Constitution.

      There must be a comprehensive review, revamp and re-energizing of all the training programmes for Bumiputera entrepreneurs that may exist now.

  2. The business of government is mostly winning elections. And when you are a weak government, practically all you do is aimed at winning votes.

    And it becomes more difficult. Because you simply cannot please everybody. Not all the time. Not even some of the time. Only some of the people, some of the time.

    As a government, surely you have to do it though the civil servants. If they resist you, your problems become more difficult. You lose the means to get the votes. The efficiency of that process at least. They even try to sabotage you. Like the case of the licensing of news portals and blogs.

    Some bloke prepares a speech that is not in line with your thinking. You can’t have time to always read the prepared speeches before giving them. You have your supposed-to-be-trusted staff to do the checking for you. Then you find the speech sounding funny. Had to do an impromptu speech. Yet your prepared speech has been issued to the press people. So it ended up with New Straits Times sounding funny. And some votes going away from you.

    And when you have chosen as Chief Secretary to the Government – the number one civil servant – a guy who is not the most senior, you have to expect grouses along the way, down the line. Any one of them can be doing the mishap. Or aiding the bloke who did it.

    • Unfortunately Najib doesnt seem to have a winning formula to win elections i.to even do better than Pak Lah. He is neither here nor there, grappling for support within UMNO yet still talk about transformation as if it is a runnaway train, unstoppable. As if it is business as usual when everyone is asking who will benefit from this neoliberalist development? Civil servants in general will go along with the government of the day whether they like it or not. But it is true that the deemphasise on the Malay economic agenda since Najib becomes PM is very apparent and it makes people wonder why he still couldnt see that. What he thinks is best for the country may not be best for all. He needs to consult with UMNO more and his Cabinet colleagues. After all he is a PM first among equal, not a President.

      • But I wonder who it is that he consults. Some people talk of foreign consulting firms with offices in Bangsar also giving him advice on Malaysian elections – like that film about an American team of three advising Gorbachev, through his daughter, on how to win the first Presidential elections in the former communist state.

        The very, very sad thing is, despite so many acts Najib did that favoured the Chinese, he got a Chinese tsunami. He even refused to learn lessons from a few by-elections held before PRU13. E.g in PRK Hulu Selangor, he promised the renovation expenses of a Chinese school in Rasah, yet the Rasah town Chinese still voted DAP, and after that they had the cheek to ask him about his promise.

        And Najib stupidly signed a cheque for RM3 million, which was handed to the school committee. To the chagrin of those wanting single stream education system, to the anger of those who detest schools not using BM as the medium of instruction.

        So, I support the suggestion that UMNO change its leadership at PAU in November.

      • And Anwar angry at Tun Dr Mahathir for calling for an end to vernacular schools and for Malaysian history to be “rewritten”, according to Malaysia Chronicle –

        Anwar slams “obsolete” Dr M: How does ending vernacular schools & rewriting …

        Malaysia Chronicle – ‎3 hours ago‎
        UPDATED VIDEO INSERTED Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is the latest leader to join the long queue out to slam former premier Mahathir Mohamad “for calling for an end to vernacular schools and for Malaysian history to be “rewritten”.

  3. There are the three cartels in any govt, be it the federal or state; the politicians, the professional civil servants & the ones who worked together between the two groups.

    They formulate policies, plans & the determine the execution.

    More often than not they bring the friends into some aspect of the execution process. Very true during Slumber Slowcoach. And same practices followed through in the current admimistration.

    Just look at the recent Cabinet line up. It’s not about getting the best talents amongst the elected MPs. It was never about the ‘Transformation Agenda’.

    It’s about appeasing every political groupings. It’s about fortifying his political allies. So that the political interests of the Dear Leader is being served!

    The Old Man is spot on.

    God help us!

    • UMNO delegates to PAU, pls help us.

  4. “,, the civil servants who are supposed to execute the operations of the government, are either confused on the inconsistent policies ..” –

    There’s also the matter of them not agreeing with policies that are “inconsistent with the Constitution”. Like on Bahasa Malaysia. Very clear the Constitution says that mother tongue may be used only “other than for official purposes”. Schools are the official purpose of the country and Mandarin and Tamil cannot be used as the medium of instruction in schools. Hence, there should not be any assistance, more so there should not be any encouragement, to the growth of Chinese schools.

    So, when there are announcements on financial grants or the recognition of qualification from Chinese schools, naturally the civil servants become lethargic about it. That’s saying it politely.

    But I like it when HRH Raja Azlan, the former Lord President (now called Chief Justice) said it “Yes Minister” style – he said to friends whose views he disagreed with, “I cannot hear you.” A loaded statement, that one. Sarcasm, humour, et all.


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