(People, events, activities and programmes which make for a total quality-managed Sarawak Civil Service)

ISSN 1394-5726

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What is our perception of the Public Services of the Future? What changes can we see coming our way and will these changes be acceptable to everybody? In a recent seminar on the Public Service of the future, the State Secretary, YB Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Hamid Bugo spoke of his ideas on what the Public Service of the future will be like. The following is an extract of his speech.

'Governing Without Government'
My view of the Public Service of the future can perhaps be best understood by interpreting the concept of 'governing without government'. This concept, does not mean, of course, that there won't be any government at all. It simply means a significant reduction in the direct involvement of the government in the administration of the Public Service. But the invisible hands of the government will always be felt. The move towards ' governing without government' is inevitable in much the same way that globalisation has now become very much a reality that we are all forced to contend with. We are all affected by globalisation. For instance, many of us have access to and are to some extent, influenced by CNN, the American satellite news network. What we are fed by the international media may have a deeper influence on the way we perceive certain situations and make certain decisions.

Are we prepared for 'governing without government'?
'Governing without government' is a good thing provided the Public Service sector is prepared for it. And that is the question that we have to address - are we prepared for it? Let me illustrate further what I meant by saying that 'governing without government' is a good thing. Take public health, for instance. There are so many rules & regulations governing our public health. The food caterers should be knowledgeable enough to understand simple basic rules about hygienic food dispensing otherwise they should not have been given a license to operate in terms of food hygiene, food storage, food preparation and others. Customers, as a matter of plain common sense, should also be able to make a choice of whether to patronise eateries which do not observe hygienic and healthy practices in their operations!

Future structure of the Public Service
Following the concept of 'governing without government,' the structure of the Public Service of the future should be very different from the present hierarchy. We have to get away from this hierarchy. It has to be a flat structure and there has to be much more devolution. If there is such a structure, it doesn't really mean that leaders in the government would actually lose their authority. Devolution here can be interpreted to mean administrative arrangement. The authority will still be there but devolution in the Public Service would mean having people who will be networking, and having teamwork; where people will put up their ideas freely and they will argue and negotiate, but not directly. The managers will no longer give directives - they will bring people together, networking to get the best solution to a problem. Only in the event that there is a crisis would an authority be required. In day-to-day working, you would be working as a team. There is not going to be a leader. The one with the best idea would have a bigger influence.

Intellectual Renaissance
The question now is how do we realise this structure. I have recently spoken about Intellectual Renaissance. The idea of Intellectual Renaissance is similar to the Renaissance period of the 18th Century where there was a revival of the individual vis-a-vis the feudal lords. Where there is such a revival, the individual is free to able to contribute and give the best ideas they have. People will be learning and continue to learn, able to think, become intellectual in the true sense of the word. In that situation where you can get people of calibre, the system which we want to transform will inevitably self-transform. This will in turn bring a lot of other changes to the Civil Service itself - everybody will be less procedural and probably be more transparent. In my opinion, the Public Service of the future has to be reinvented, incorporating whatever is good and desirable from the old system into the 'reinvented' Civil Service.


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