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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Pakatan must bring the civil service to heel

Pakatan must bring the civil service to heel
COMMENT
pkr,kedai cina,arak
The civil service and the government are intimately entwined, for one cannot exist without the other. By “government”, we are referring here to the executive estate. One may think of the civil service as the arms and legs of the government, for it sets – or is supposed to set – into motion the laws and policies of the state. As such, it represents the connecting line between the public and the executive. The two are symbiotic, and any disconnect is immediately apparent, such as when the Petaling District Alcohol License Council decided to ban the sale of non-medicinal alcohol by Chinese medicine shops.
The decision doesn’t make much sense. Is the council going to pull the standard excuse that alcohol sale in these shops will lead other ethnicities into sin? What nonsense! One look at a Chinese medicine shop will tell you exactly what it is, and you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into when you walk into one. And it’s not as if Pakatan has not gone to bat for the sale of alcohol before. Anwar Ibrahim himself was against such a ban, though he did suggest that retailers practise self-regulation in Muslim-majority areas.
That being said, the main concern here is why the head seems to not be in control of the arms and legs of our government structure. After all, Pakatan Rakyat has been in power in Selangor for almost two terms now, and aside from a few (major) hiccups here and there, the state has remained one of the most cosmopolitan and advanced in Malaysia. One would imagine that Pakatan would be in complete control of its arms and legs. So why was this decision even considered in the first place?
The civil service in Malaysia has often been maligned, and reforming it should have been Pakatan’s top priority upon coming into power in Selangor. After all, the head may have the best ideas and plans, but if the arms and legs cannot execute those ideas and plans, then they all come to naught.
Critics are sure to pounce on this as another proof that Pakatan is not yet fit to rule, which again highlights just how important it is to have a competent civil service that is in line with the goals of the government. And to be fair, it does pose the perplexing question of how Pakatan intends to deal with the current civil service structure if and when it takes over the Federal Government. It can have the best policies, but if the civil service cannot fall in line with the executive, then the Pakatan experiment will be set back.
Pakatan must take the civil service in Selangor firmly in hand, much like it has done in Penang, and reform it to be efficient and coordinated with the state government’s policies. Failure to address the rot at the root of our civil service will only mean more ammunition for Pakatan’s detractors. For a coalition still looking to prove itself as a viable alternative to BN, that could be disastrous.

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