Friday, August 29, 2014

Tun Dr. Mahathir says Sarawak develops fast under Abdul Taib

His Excellency, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud,  as the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak had a warm and cordial working relationship with Tun Dr.  Mahathir Mohamed, then Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed the fourth Prime Minister of  Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

He was the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia and still has a sharp mind and sharp tongue in his criticisms of the government’s development policies and programs that he disagrees with.

With this in mind, a team of local writers were dispatched to get his views on the leadership of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as a politician and leader, who has  led the state for 33 years.

The writers met Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed in his office at Yayasan Perdana in Putrajaya last July. Though he was fasting he was gracious enough to grant the interview and gave whatever the writers wanted to know from him.  (The  edited text of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s interview will be published in a coffee table book being published by the State government to depict Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s 33 years as the Chief Minister of Sarawak. )

Sarawak, with a total land area of 124, 450  Sg. KM, which is almost the size of England, is Malaysia’s largest state by a considerable margin.   However, with a population of about 2.5 million, it is also the most sparsely populated state. It is a  land of rugged mountains, mighty rivers, mangrove forests, white sandy beaches and pristine islands.

Though, the State  has a good network of roads of various  grades with a total length of about 30,000 KM,  its 66 major rivers and hundreds of tributaries  remain important for transport for the people.

Sarawak, as a state in Malaysia, enjoys a measure of political autonomy in the form of self - governing parliamentary democracy, independent legal system, strong institutions and a professional civil service  headed by a State Secretary. English is very widely spoken by the people.

The State  enjoyed unparallelled racial harmony, political stability and progress and prosperity under Pehin Sri Abdul Abdul Taib. His politics of development  as the philosophy of development has helped to chang the midset of the people and transform  Sarawak into an open, dynamic and business friendly economy.      


Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed started by saying he first met Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib in New York while attending the UN General Assembly in 1965. Both of them were  delegates; usually the government sends Members of Parliament as delegates to UN General Assembly.

He said it was memorable time for them in New York while  attending the UN General Assembly. Abdul Taib’s father-in-law was also in New York at that time. They  were together quite a lot and got to know each other well.  He was with Abdul Taib most of the time.

He met Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib (then young Abdul Taib as a local politician) before the meeting in New York  but not so well.  His first impression of Abdul Taib was, he was very active and interested in many things. Of course, he was very dedicated to the development of Malaysia, Sarawak in particular.  

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed said when he became the Prime Minister, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib served briefly  in his Cabinet as the Minister of Federal Territories. He  had to resign his Federal post, after serving for more than 13 years, to come back to helm the State government .

Before the appointment, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib (then Datuk Amar Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud) had to contest a by-election and appointed a State Minister before he assumed the appointment of the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak on March 26, 1981.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observed that Sarawak under the leadership of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib developed very fast, the whole of Sarawak, not just Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Bintulu and others.  He had this scheme of building Dewan Suarah or civic centres, to encourage the people to interact among them, throughout Sarawak.

Generally, there has been a distinct change since Pehin Sri Abdul Taib became the Chief Minister.  He was very focused on developing Sarawak.  Fortunately, for him, with the oil royalty he had money to do a lot of things in terms of the development of Sarawak.

He had to contruct roads and build bridges, some very long and costly bridges over big rivers like Santubong,  Batang Igan, Pakan, Batang Kemena and Kuala Baram bridges in order to make more coastal and remote areas in the hinterlands of Ulu Kapit,  Ulu Belaga, Ulu Baram and Ulu Limbang accessible by roads.

He brought a lot of development to Sarawak that some areas, which used to be mushy back in the 70s and early 80s,  have been transformed to become built - up areas with settlements.

As the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed used to come to Sarawak fairly often. No matter which parts of Sarawak he visited, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib would be there with him. The occasions provided them opportunities to strategize and further plan for  the development of Sarawak towards the year 2020 and beyond.

It was quite obvious to Tun Dr. Mahathir that Pehin Sri Abdul Taib wanted Sarawak  not only to catch up but move in tandem with the development and progress of Semenajung Malaysia, which started its development six years earlier.   

He wanted  to make Sarawak as developed as the Peninsular Malaysia in terms of infrastructure  development and investments of the revenue from the shares of oil royalty.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed recalled  how Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib was concerned with the future development of Sarawak or how Sarawak could sustain its development  after attaining the  status of high income economy on or before 2020 and beyond.

He had to initiate the industrialisation programme  through the development  of vast hydro potential, which was of course very expensive. However, it has to be done to sustain the development of Sarawak. That was how they came to agree  on the development of Bakun hydroelectricity dam, a mammoth project, as the pre-requisite for industrialisation.

Undoubtedly,  the development of Bakun hydro dam, which was badly affected by the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, has triggered the development of a much bigger industrialisation program in the form of the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

It was obvious to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed that Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has laid a strong foundation, in term of direction in particular, for the development and progress of Sarawak  much more than any other leaders.

He has spent the the State’s money wisely as evidenced by how he has  been developing Sarawak. He has lifted Sarawak from the back water of development to become one of the fastest development states in the country.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observes that Sarawak has done extremely well in development. At one stage it was way ahead as compared to the other states including Sabah, which under Tan Sri Harris Salleh as the Chief Minister developed very fast.  But Sarawak under Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib was able to catch up and moved ahead.

Tun Dr. Mahathir says Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has remarkable grasp of things like understanding of the workings of the government. His dedication to Sarawak is total. Sometimes, the Federal leadership felt uncomfortable when he appeared to be too much of a Sarawakian and forgot about the country.

However, as a whole he has been very supportive of Malaysia and the Federal leadership most of who are from Peninsular Malaysia.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mahathir said he had no difficulty working with Tun Pehin  Sri Abdul Taib. He worked well with him. During his time, they were very much together and could achieve the objectives both for Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
Tun Dr. Mahthir said his first visit to Sarawak was shortly after the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Then there were rumours that Sabah and Sarawak would join Singapore. He came together with Tun Abdul Razak to Sabah and Sarawak because they were worried that Sarawak might secede from Malaysia.

That was the first time he met Sarawak political leaders  like Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, the third Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud, a former Federal Minister and others.

He recalled when they were in Miri they had to stay in a number of wooden houses belonging to Shell in Lutong.  In Kuching,  they were not very well as  SUPP then was still in the opposition with a very strong stand against Malaysia.

Generally, the urban Chinese have a mind of their own. In Sarawak, they were with SUPP, which  not with the alliance.  Tun Abdul Razak, after May 1969 racial disturbances in Peninsular Malaysia,  invited all the opposition parties to join the government and run the country together.

SUPP was one of those  opposition parties, which responded positively to the invitation and agreed that all must work together to downplay politics and concentrate on development of the country for the benefits of the people, State and country.

Apparently, SUPP, with its long history in the opposition, accepted the leadership of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib very well. For a long time, SUPP formed a strong unit with PBB as the backbone of the Government and Barisan Nasional.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observes that Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has a very strong command of the essentials of politics in Sarawak. He managed to get strong support especially from the natives whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims; whether they’re Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanaus, Orang Ulu and others.  

He says it is worthwhile listening to Pehin Sri Abdul Taib rather than do something else not in accord with his perception of things. He has a complete grasp of the situation.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed says Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s greatest contribution to Malaysia, Sarawak in particular, is his ability to get the people, comprising  of different tribes and origins, to work together in the common pursuit for progress and development. It is not an easy thing to keep the people, comprising of about 30 ethnic groups together.

Even, the Chinese, who have always been very independent-minded accept his leadership.  Although some tried to pull away, they could never make any significant split to withdraw support Barisan Nasional being led by Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib. 

Sarawak Monitor 
August 29, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sarawak has potential to take important place in Malaysia

The common struggle of the people,  as  the country poises to celebrate its 57th anniversary of Merdeka, is not only to pick up greater prosperity but to push  Sarawak to take an important place in the successful federation that it helped to form 50 years ago. 

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during a special gathering on July 22 to mark Sarawak’s Independence from Whitehall,   believes the new leaders, with the experience that they have gathered during his time and with the prevailing peace and stability,  will be able to look after Sarawak well.

Personally, he knows that Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Haji Satem, as the new Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues will bring more success to Sarawak.  He is a very patient man, who has analytical mind and a quiet determination to see that Sarawak will be the fore-runner in Malaysia by the year 2030.

But developing Sarawak, which is as big as Peninsula Malaysia, will continue to poise many challenges. The population is small and sparsely scattered over a wide area to make it even harder to provide them with basic facilities. Although the Federal Government is sympathetic with the State’s requests for bigger development funding to catch up, there is much more to be done including seeking for various other sources of funding.

Therefore, the State government must put in place different development approaches to accelerate its pace.   More importantly, the new approach must  incorporate the preparation of the State's Eleventh Malaysia Plan, whereby intensive engagement at various levels with the Federal Government will be carried out.

Obviously, time is the essence as the State, the country as whole, has less than six years to achieve the target of becoming a high income and advanced economy by 2020. The State Government must work out this matter with the Federal Government.

More importantly, the State must work hard and fast not only to realize Vision 2020 but to keep pace with the global demands and requirement against the backdrop that it is evolving rapidly.  Hence, the State, which is not isolated from the rest of the world, has to face numerous challenges along with the complexity of issues and the rising demands of quality services.

In such a situation, the State must make conscientious efforts, for example, to find new ways how to optimize usage of limited resources available to push progress and development for the people.

The State fully realizes that for any government to remain relevant and effective both in developed and developing countries, it must keep tab of various changes and endeavor to keep practical approaches to adapt itself to the changes. Otherwise, it may be left behind as no country will wait for us.

Basically, different time calls for different ways in responding to the situation. Malaysia, with its ability to keep up with the time, has many friends. For example, Malaysia through its network could leverage with 26 other nations, to collaborate in searching for the missing MH370 aircraft, which is not just a Malaysian crisis but adopted by other countries to help.

Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Adenan Haji Satem, in his speech during the recent retreat of High Performance Team (HPT) says as the important role of public service is to facilitate changes, it must endeavor to become more strategic and competitive globally. The time now is not only to provide services but to look for ways to make the Civil Service to become more accessible, more relevant and painless services.

He strongly subscribes to the idea of High Performance Team retreat, with members comprising of Permanent Secretaries of Ministries, Heads of Departments and CEOs of Government - linked companies, with the primary objective to solve issues and problems affecting the people in accordance with the common acceptance that the “customer is always right”.

In this regards, members of the Civil Service must adapt themselves to public’s demands, who are no longer content simply to be served; they ask questions, have their own mind within the evolution of the rising expectation. Unlike in the old days the people did not expect much from the Civil Service. 

 But the character of the public or the expectation of the public has increased and they want to be heard and have some participation in the government of the day. Hence, the Civil Service must endeavor to optimize organizational performances of its various Ministries, departments and other agencies

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says the State Civil Service must endeavor to become highly adaptable to changes in implementing development programs and finding solution to the local needs and requirements. Flexibility of the public sector must be enhanced within the limited resources. They should never limit what they could do for the people in development.

More importantly, members of the civil service must make conscientious efforts to engage with the Rakyat. They must be ready to good down to the ground and listen to the needs and grouses of the people.  In the process, they should be able to come up with better solution to problems and issues affecting the people and be more familiar with what is happening surrounding them. This is will enhance their ability to act in bringing about   positive changes to the people.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says the State aspires to raise the per capita higher and ensure a fairer distribution of incomes to the people to narrow equality among them.  The per capita income is meaningless if the income disparity among the people is very high. For example, it does not mean much with the GDP of US20,000 as not everybody earns US20,000. 

Some towkays earn much more than that and 10 or 20% of the people in the lower income group earn much less than it.  It is not the question of per capita but the question of disparity of income among the people. 

He assures that the State government does not want people to be spectators but  participants in development like SCORE; we want the people, comprising of various ethnic groups  to be participants and not mere spectators in the process of development.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan believes the only way to raise incomes of the people is skills development. The State must learn from the experience of other countries that skills development is the way to narrow the income disparity.

He says one of the core agenda to transform economic landscape of Sarawak is Sarawak Corridor of Renewable energy (SCORE). In this regards, the Civil Service has been prepared to face the potential challenges and play more important roles in the globalised economy.
Sarawak has an advantage as a country of various ethnicities, religions and cultures and yet the people are able to live in peace and harmony and become an example for others to follow.  Therefore, the State should harness this potential and direct it to resolving common issues that affect everyone.

Personally, he believes in unity in diversity, which has become the State’s  basis of unity  among the multi-cultural people.  The State has become an example unity in diversity for others to follow.  The Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak has openly acknowledged that 1Malaysia movement is based on Sarawak’s concept of Unity in Diversity.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says Sarawakians need to stay focused to the State’s primary objective to build Sarawak where the people comprising of diverse ethnicities and other backgrounds can have opportunities to provide for themselves and their families and care for their children as well as their old parents.

He assures that the State government will work to improve the efficiency of the Government particularly the service delivery of the civil service. In this regards, policies must be properly formulated and implemented as quickly as possible so that the general public can benefit from them.

He is happy that the State has an efficient and effective civil service to continue improving and to serve the people well. The Government has been able to facilitate the activities of the society and economy and help businessmen and the people to improve their well- being.

In this regards, heads of departments have been tasked to promote team work among members of the staff to promote efficiency of service and tcreate the culture of excellence in the work place.  This is in line with the practice that trouble shooting should be performed by heads of departments in solving problems affecting the people.

In other words, senior officers must take personal responsibility in solving problems affecting the people. In some cases, they can delegate but must see that the jobs are done properly as delegation does not mean releasing the responsibility to junior officers

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says personally he is not interested in listening to good excuses; anybody can manufacture good excuses. He wants the job to be done and not interested whether they are good or bad excuses.  Trouble shooting and problems solving must be performed by heads of departments, who may discover though they have done  much but there are still so much yet to be done.

He believes all challenges could be faced with innovative strategies, which should be pragmatic.  Some of the government’s policies may not have been successful because they have not been implemented properly. For example, as the Minister for the Modernisation of Agriculture some years ago, he received complaints from the people in DID scheme that they got excess water when they did not need it and no water when they needed it.

He found out that it was not the problem of the drainage and irrigation scheme, where a large sum of money had been spent on it  but the problem of the gatekeeper.  He opened and closed the gates without proper schedule and supervision.  The practical solution was to call the Kampung people, the gatekeeper and senior officers of DID to schedule the opening hours, which must differ from time to time.    It was a very practical solution that helped to solve the problem.

He says as the Minister of Social Development some years ago, he found a swimming pool opening only during office hours.  The Manager made the rule to suit him without taking into consideration that the people use the swimming pool after office hours. 

He also found a case of a football field being looked after by seven people but one them was very honest to tell him that he had been working for three months but nobody told him to do anything. It was the supervisor’s fault in not telling the people what to do in looking after the football field.  In New Zealand two men with machines could look after the whole of a Golf Course; the same thing happening in Australia. These are examples of failures in doing the jobs that have been tasked on them.

Sarawak Monitor 
August 27, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

The significance of July 22 to Sarawak

Sarawak has come of age when the people should be able to see a brighter future ahead, be grateful for whatever they have and take cognizance of their humble beginning  in order to realise how lucky and blessed they are as Anak Sarawak Rakyat Malaysia (People of Sarawak Citizens of Malaysia).

In 60s and 70s, Anak Sarawak, residing in Kuala Lumpur, admitted that it was easier not to tell people which State they came from, not because they were not proud of their state, but in order to avoid answering some very stupid questions like how many people still lived on trees or how many people still lived in caves or what is the different between Kuching and Sarawak and many more.

Generally, the people, who believed they were superior human beings than their counterparts in Sarawak, had totally lacked of knowledge and information about the State, which had very little exposure by both the print and electronic media, which were and are still biased towards Peninsular Malaysia.

Even now the so-called National papers have little or no coverage of the State. As a consequence, the people in Sarawak are more knowledgeable about events and happenings in Peninsular Malaysia than their counterparts there about Sarawak. Perhaps, the media practitioners there should start asking themselves what are their roles in promoting national integration for example through the movement of 1Malaysia.

Thanks to the third Chief Minister of Sarawak, Dato Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub (now Tun Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub), who was the man of his time, came up with a slogan Sarawak a model State in Malaysia (Sarawak Negeri Contoh Dalam Malaysia) primarily to boost the morale and confidence of the people. 

Until the early 80s, the Sarawak still remained in the backwater lane of development, under-developed and having high incidence of poverty. Then the rate of poverty in the state was more than 10% per cent and unemployment among the people especially youth in villages and longhouses were very high.  The demographic pattern of the State was about 80% rural and 20% urban. 

The situation gave rise to an explosive feeling of dissatisfaction against the government, which was being accused of pursuing politics of favouritism. Consequently, instigating racial and communal feelings was the best weapon to win support, though a highly divisive support, in any elections.  

Of course, the situation has changes with many places in rural areas being connected by roads. The State government, with the support and co-operation of the Federal government has successfully constructed about 30,000 KM of various types of roads throughout the state. 

The State government has also been working very hard to develop the infrastructure to provide basic amenities like clean water and electricity that can give some comfort to the people.  The electricity will not give light to the people but more importantly the power for children to use computer and serve the internet to get access to information on knowledge and skills and keep up with the progress of the world. 

Undoubtedly, Sarawak has been experiencing tremendous changes and progress that can touch the livelihood of the people though some of them are far up in the hinterlands like Ba’kelalan,  Belaga, Ulu Baram and Kapit, or in remote coastal areas of Kpg Nyabor near Kabong, Kpg. Penipah in Pulau Bruit,   which used to be remote and inaccessible in the early days.  

Actually the State’s success during the last 50 years is the same with Brazil, with the per capita income of more than RM40,000 and being a more successful nation in South America. But Brazil has been Independent for almost 200 years, while Sarawak only 50 years. 

The State’s gross domestic product in 1963 was RM505 million and now after 50 years of Independence, it is RM108 billion.  The per capita in 1963 was RM688 and now it is RM42,000.  But the common concerned is what the people actually get. 

Undoubtedly, the people, since Independence 50 years ago, are enjoying the benefits of development.  There were more people under employment than employment in 1963. Then the people, generally, had to live from hand to mouth. In other words, they had to work first before they could have their breakfast.

By the 70s there were only 300,000 job opportunities. Now there are 1.1 million job opportunities in the State.  The rate of unemployment in 1990 was 9.9%. It has dropped to around 4% now.     
As a consequence, the rate of poverty has been reduced from more than 60% in 1963 to 2.4% now. The household income in 1963 was only RM410 and now it is RM4,200 an increase of more than 10 times.  

Today, Sarawak observes July 22 with a gathering held at the State Legislative Assembly. His Excellency the Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud launched a special edition of the pictorial book on the progress and of Sarawak during the last 50 years.

The State Government has given appropriate recognition to the significance of July 22 as it was on this day that the British Colonial Administration, the successor of the 100 years of Brookes’ rule, handed over power to people of Sarawak for the internal self-government; it was the first step toward nationhood.

July 22 must be recognised as a highly significant day for our beloved State of Sarawak as it was on this day,  51 years ago, that Sarawak established the first post Independent cabinet to officially launch a new political entity in the world.

It should truly be a momentous day for Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as it was on this day 51 years ago that he was sworn in as a member of the first post Independence State Cabinet at the young age of 27 years old. Members of the six-member cabinet comprised of leaders, who had been elected by the people during the June/July 1963 elections.

The primary task of the six – member cabinet was to spearhead a campaign for Sarawak to become a State in the new federation of Malaysia to fulfil the desire and aspiration of the people to become a State in the proposed Federation of Malaysia. 

All of them realised that Sarawak could not afford to build its own security and Armed Forces in Asia, which was not stable then.  Therefore, the choice of Anak Sarawak and members of the first Cabinet was for the formation of Malaysia to be formalized as a soon as possible.   It was the people, who had been working very hard for the Independence of Sarawak to become a state and later a state in the Federation of Malaysia. 

They were also pre-occupied with the desire to reserve their customs and traditions and peace and harmony among the various ethnic and religious groups in the State. Obviously, as Anak Sarawak they had to shoulder heavy responsibilities to keep Sarawak to remain harmonious, united and peaceful. 

Undoubtedly, Sarawak has achieved tremendous progress, which, at one time, nobody dared even to dream off, a progressive, modern and well-developed State. However, with the rising expectation, the people expect the higher level of progress and achievement in the future.  They realize that the achievement during the last 50 years is not completed yet.

The State government, with the support and co-operation of the Federal government has constructed more than 30,000 KMs of roads to various parts of the State since Independence. Before, the people had to use boats or walk to such places but now they can use motorcars or motorcycles.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib can still vividly remember having to walk along muddy path, stop in shallow rivers or near the coasts to wait for the tide before he could proceed to his destination during the first years of Independence to prepare the minds of the people for their new roles in the struggle for nation building.

His late wife Datuk Patinggi Laila, who had never seen rural areas, when she accompanied him, had to struggle walking on a tree trunk across a river. They had to face such problems as the state was still poor and grossly under-developed. Now the State has built hundreds of bridges across numerous rivers to connect roads that have already been constructed.

The State has also built hundreds of rural health clinics, introduced mobile health services by vehicles, boats and flying doctor services. Before hospitals could only be found in Kuching, Sibu and Miri. But now 14 hospitals have been built in all divisions and major districts throughout the state. Besides, a number of medical centres including medical specialist centres have been set up by the private sector in cities and major towns throughout the state.

Now 95% of the people in rural areas have clean water supply and 85% have electricity.  Besides, they can enjoy better health services and have more employment opportunities coming up in their areas.

In the early days after Independence, young children had to be ferried by boats or walked for some distances to schools. Some rural schools also introduced the school mother system, through which to employ a person for minimal pay, to cook simple food for young children who had to stay in boarding house. Now young children in rural areas can benefit from good facilities being provided in schools.

The struggle for development must not only be continued but intensified to fulfil the hopes of the people for the future. In this regards, parents must give every encouragement to their children to study hard to acquire relevant knowledge and technical skill as the State enters the era of massive industrialisation.   There will be a lot of employment opportunities coming up with the transformation of the economy from medium to high income economy. 

For this reason, the children must have high ambition and focus their studies to employment opportunities that will come up. Advisably, young people should  pursue technical education and training  to prepare themselves for the important roles in the development of industries, which is increasingly being accelerated toward the year 2020 and beyond.  

Understandably, the ultimate objective is to achieve the status of a developed nation with Sarawak as part of it.  For this reason, the spirit of the struggle and sacrifices of the previous generation must be continued in future.    That was the spirit, which has given the State a tremendous success in the past 50 years.  

Now it is for the present and future generations to achieve, in the next 50 years, Sarawak as part of a bigger nation that is fully developed, industrialized and diversified in the economy. More importantly, they must ensure that the state will have happy people by implementing the correct social policy that makes it possible to achieve greater equality among them.

Obviously, the State has been implementing development policies and strategies, which sometimes differ from the rest of the country, to meet local demands and situation to remain the integral part of the a country that is actively moving toward greater equality. The State is fully aware that any country cannot become successful if any ethnic groups are being left out of the mainstream development.

In this regards, the State government has already planned for a more ambitious development plan in order to achieve greater progress and prosperity than what has already been achieved. The people will be able to benefit more from the development programs and projects through their own initiatives and efforts as development and progress do not roll to the people’s laps.

Basically, the backbone of any nation is the common people, who must work and labour for it. Hence, the people must work hard and cooperate with the Government to push Sarawak forward to become more peaceful, prosperous and progressive towards the year 2020 and beyond.

The Golden Jubilee celebration is an appropriate occasion to remind ourselves that we are Anak Sarawak proud citizens of Malaysia, who are committed to push ahead with development in order to create more opportunities for the people of diverse ethnic and religious groups in order to achieve greater equality among them. 

Sarawak Monitor 
July 25, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sarawak Civil Service endeavors to benchmark with leading organizations

The Transformation Program of Sarawak Civil Service, initiated in 2010, has the Vision to transform the Civil Service to become the World Class Civil Service towards the Year 2020 with the Mission to achieve excellence in service through High Performance Team solutions.

SCS’s vision to be A World Class Civil Service is motivated by the desire to serve the Rakyat in a truly distinguished manner. Obviously, the members must never lose sight of the vision as it gives meaning and value to everything that they do. 

If the understanding of the vision becomes clouded and means different things to different people, then chaos will reign as each of them will be heading in different directions. They should regularly refer back to the vision and mission so that they can move together with a shared sense of purpose, direction and priorities.

To be “World Class Civil Service” means that the members must continuously improve the standards of service delivery and adopt and use tools and processes that are used by world class institutions such as Balance Scorecard and Strategic Planning. 

They must regularly benchmark themselves with leading organizations in the world and ensure that the level of service is just as good if not better than them. The members must be prepared to be audited by Auditor General and internationally bodies such as Moody’s. 

Besides, they must enhance their capacity to organize international events such as the recent CAPAM Convention and compete in international arenas as was done by the KIK teams. These are all components of effort to be world class. 
The State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohd. Morshidi Ghani, is personally optimistic that the State Civil Service will be able to meet the challenges with various initiatives and measures that the members have undertaken to increase the efficiency, for example, of the service delivery. 

Sarawak State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohd. Morshidi Ghani
His optimism is based on boundless energy, enthusiastic passion, steadfast dedication and unwavering commitment that he could sense within members of the civil service in the course of his various interactions with them.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi, is his speech during a special gathering of members of the staff of the Chief Minister’s Department, said as public servants their existence is to serve the public. Their job is a noble cause if it is done well; they can change the lives of many for the better. Through their work, they can bring reality to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of others and ensure that their lives today is better than yesterday and that their tomorrow will be better than today. 

He said this is our duty and obligation to the Rakyat as enshrined in our philosophy “An Honor to Serve”. In this respect, everything that we do like creating policies, building facilities and planning for projects ultimately have impact on the well- being of people. Therefore, we must take our job very seriously. It is far too important and sacred to be dealt with in a nonchalant and dispassionate attitude.

He believed that it is a very fulfilling call to serve in the Civil Service. He is reminded of a quote by Einstein, who puts it rather well: “Only a life that lives for others is a life worthwhile.”The more we serve others, the more enriched we become - not monetarily, but in blessings

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said as a High Performing Organization, the State civil service must take a strategic approach and operate through clear action plans and challenging performance targets. The plans in today’s quickly evolving environment must be regularly reviewed and revised. Hence, members of the Civil Service must constantly be challenging themselves to find ways to improve what they do.

He said SCS 10-20 Action Plan is the Integral part of World Class Civil Service.  It was introduced in 2012 and improvised in 2013 to give emphasis on eight sectors namely Managing Culture of Change, Managing Customer Needs, Innovation & Creativity, HR Talent Management, e-Government, Project & Program Delivery Excellence, Financial Management Transformation and Sarawak Excellent Administration of Legal Services

The SCS 10-20 Action is aimed at expediting and leapfrogging the transformation process to achieve the objective of Perkhidmatan Awam Negeri Sarawak or PANS. In the first 12 months after the launching, a number of programs and actions under SCS 10-20 Action Plan have produced positive results

They are as follows:
  • SCS Transformation Policy No.1 of 2013 by UPPQ;
  • Guidelines for managing culture of Change Bil.1 Tahun 2013 by UPPQ;
  • Manual Program for Mentoring by UPSM;
  • A total of 60 Grade 41 officers were recruited under the New Recruitment and Selection System;
  • Induction course for Grade 41 officers has also been using the New Induction Program;
  • Guidelines & Log Book on 42 Hours Training & Mentoring has been developed and issued by UPSM.
  • He said reduction of rate of “sick projects” must be consistent with the capability to complete NKRA Roads project exceeding the target under MIDCOM.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the State Civil Service has prepared SCS online service through KIOSK, Balanced Scorecard System (e-BSC), EBPP, Talikhidmat and e-Recruitment are mobile-enabled and eLA2 extended to 10 other District Councils in the overall efforts to turn the service to become Electronic service. 

He said eight State government agencies have been awarded 4-star in Auditor General Malaysia Report and 32 others get three- star in the Accountability Index (AI) for the year 2012.

Undoubtedly, KFA has given impact to the improvement of process and system in agencies of PANS. For example, a total of 462 KFA were produced until 2013. During the period, a total of 88 business licenses were improved through Business Process Reengineering under the Business Licensing Initiatives. Only 68 licenses were retained.  

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the State Civil Service has the most number of Innovation and Creativity groups in the country. It has also introduced KIK Hybrid to combine two or more agencies in one Kumpulan KIK.

Besides, a total of 71.43% of agencies or 65 of them are being monitored, as part of the discipline of managing Culture of Change, to have implemented at least two programs based on six values of PANS.

He said the introduction of the concept of “One Government at Your Service” primarily to improve the delivery service to customers is being divided into three phases of implementation. 

The first phase “Service through Kiosk” was introduced with the integration of six online services covering Pay bills Malaysia, e-Scholarship, e-Recruitment, Talikhidmat, e-Contractor and Consultant and Government Directories. The first Kiosk was launched on December 10 2013 at Plaza Merdeka.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the HPT Solutions,  introduced during HPT Retreat 2013 with the primary objective to achieve quick wins through the process of inter inter-agency discussion, is the manifestation of the determination of the State Civil Service to achieve excellence in Service at par with the world standard.  

For example, six issues out of 12 being discussed by a group in HPT Solutions have been solved and the rest will be solved soon. The Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Board of Director’s Meeting, General Members Meeting and Regional Forum was successfully held from October 27 to 30, 2013.

However, he said the transformation journey ahead will be more robust and significant. It will involve, since the beginning of this year, various initiatives and programs evolving around the following areas:

  • Enhancement of the current action plans undertaken by the various agencies;
  • Taking stock of the existing programs and rectifying any problems of implementation;
  • Creating world class knowledge workers for the Sarawak Civil Service with expertise in their professional fields and displaying a global mindset and working culture;
  • Creating a new work culture that embraces the values encapsulated in SCS 10-20;
  • Leveraging ICT that cuts across agencies and functions;
  • Developing human resource capital that focuses on talent management and customer focus; and
  • Creating a more sustainable and impactful culture of innovation and creative thinking.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the future is not one of ease where members of the civil service can take it easy. It will become more demanding and challenging. The stakeholders will expect more from them. Therefore, they have to strive more and use all the resources more creatively so that they can meet their expectations. One of the most powerful resources that they can have is the shared values. 

He said the six core values of the civil service must become the arsenal that directs behavior of members. The values of teamwork, kind and caring, result-oriented, integrity, professionalism and sense of ownership and urgency must consciously be cultivated to become the norm in everything that they do.
He believed when the values are practiced regularly, they will become habit and if all of them cultivate the habits, the common habits will become their culture. Once they have a strong culture, it will give them strength to weather even the worst of storms. 

In this regard, he urged all Officers in the Civil Service to take seriously the various culture building activities being organized by the service. They should endeavor to acquire and internalize the values and practice them regularly. 

He believed the acquisition of the values will not only contribute to professional life but enrich personal life at home and in the community. Hence, they should make the cultures to become norm among them. More importantly they should make an honest Feeling and Humility to become important values.

Personally, he believed if members of the Civil Service go down to reach out to the people with an air of authority and with the attitude that “I know what is good for you”, it is very likely that the people will stay away from them. In other words, the greatest barrier between them and the people will be if they let their EGO takes over. An English writer and philosopher, George Bernard Shaw described EGO as “Edging God Out” to imply that people with ego tend to think that they even greater than god. 

Once any member of the Civil Service is guided by EGO, pride and arrogance takes over and he tends to make decisions that do not take into account interests of those affected by them. Ultimately, the decision is likely to fail and result in much frustration for the people and deplete their trust on the civil service.

Therefore, it is very important that civil servants cultivate the quality of humility and learn to be humble as part of the ‘Kind and Caring’ value so that the Rakyat can interact with them more comfortably. Once they don’t have that ego, they will become humble enough in their services.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi related a recent study by two professors from University of Buffalo and University of Wisconsin in USA found that humble leaders are more effective and liked better. The study, covering different organizations like military, financial, services, religions all agreed that the essence of a leader’s humility involves modeling to followers on how to grow. 

According to Prof Bradley Owens, one of the researcher: "Growing and learning often involves failure and can be embarrassing But leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers. They also will legitimize their followers' own growth journeys and will have higher-performing organizations."

The researchers found that humble leaders model how to be effectively human rather than super human and legitimize “becoming” rather than “pretending”.

He said integrity is a way of life that is molded by the basic foundation for the betterment of the people that they serve. It demands transparency, predictability and consistency whereby every decision and action that they make must be based on facts, truth, and the common good. 

He said indications are that members of the Civil Service will continue to face a more challenging ahead of them as the Federal government has embarked on an austerity drive even though the demands and expectations of the public is forever increasing and becoming more complex. 

He is happy that generally members of the Civil Service have been working hard. However working hard alone is not enough. They need to work smart as well as work hard. They must take time to understand the situation and come out with efficient solutions to get more done with less time and efforts.

He recalled during the race to space in the 60s and 70s between the Americans and the Russians, both the astronauts from America and the Cosmonauts from Russia faced a problem. The normal ballpoint pens could not be used in space because of the lack of gravitational force and low pressure. 

The Americans formed a team of 10 scientists to work on the problem. After 1 year and spending 6 billion dollars, they developed a unique pen that worked at zero gravity and low pressure. The Russians also found a solution to this problem. They used pencils! Most of the time complicated problems have very simple solutions; it just requires us to think differently.

This function serves as a forum for members of the civil service to interact among them and at the same time share the movement in a sincere manner the movement, wishes and in my expectation of all members of the staff of 

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi thanked members of the staff of the Chief Minister’s department, which is being entrusted to pioneer the agenda of the transformation of Sarawak Civil Service through the Action Plan of SCS10-20, for their pioneering spirit and selfless efforts to enable the department to achieve tremendous success over the years. 

All of them deserve to be congratulated. But the most important thing is for them not only to keep up with the good work but continue to improve on their achievement in the overall efforts to make a perfect transformation process as planned for Sarawak Civil Service.   

Sarawak Monitor
July 18, 2014