‘Things have to change,’ PM tells civil service in maiden address

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that there can no longer be approvals for procurements without tender to curb leakages and corruption.

In his maiden speech to staff from the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya today, Anwar said the civil service can no longer take ‘things as usual, as things have to change, and the change has to start from the leadership, including the leadership of the civil service.’

Sharing his past experience in the government, he said when he was the finance minister, his first instruction was to bar family members or close friends from being given preferential treatment for government projects.

“This nation has been ruined not by the civil service,” he said, citing the example of Malaysia Airlines Bhd, formerly known as Malaysian Airline System (MAS), which he said had excellent service and good operational management.

“But the weak point was the top management which resulted in losses for many families, and impacted the nation’s image and confidence,” he said.

The national airline had suffered multiple losses since 1997, requiring the injection of billions of ringgit of taxpayer’s money. In 2014, the airliner shed 30% or some 6,000 of its workforce. This was followed by its delisting from the local stock exchange and its subsequent rebranding to Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) by 2015.

Anwar urged the civil service to provide their full support, “not in terms of your political stripes [affiliation], but your administrative stripes, which should be independent, professional and tied to our pledge to become human beings who are useful to our families and society.”

Anwar was flanked by government chief secretary Tan Sri Mohd  Zuki Ali and other senior government officials from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

He commenced his duty officially at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya on Friday (Nov 25). He was then received by Mohd Zuki as well as Public Service Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani and Army Chief Gen Tan Sri Zamrose Mohd Zain.

“I will advise colleagues who will be selected as ministers, in a short time from now…to respect the [administrative] process,” he said.

Anwar said in any country, governments come and go, but the civil administration stays, acknowledging their importance in running the nation.

He noted that more often than not, their weaknesses usually get highlighted. However, he said he was well aware from past experience of the dedication and hard work put in by many members of the civil service.

Anwar was sworn in as the 10th PM on Thursday (Nov 24) with the formation of a unity government consisting of Pakatan Harapan (PH), which won the largest bloc in Parliament after the 15th General Election (GE15), along with Barisan Nasional (BN) and a few other coalitions. – TMR