KUCHING: The temptation of easy money is causing flaws in the public service and the situation has become alarming because more than half of reported cases of graft involve civil servants, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Corruption is a terrible disease that can hurt our competitiveness and image because it brings about a loss of public confidence in the civil service, the Deputy Prime Minister said.
We need to achieve a clean image, one that is free from corruption, so that the public, businessmen and foreign investors will have a positive perception of our civil service, he said when opening the National Good Governance Committee Convention here yesterday.
Some 560 participants are attending the two-day convention, comprising secretaries-general of ministries, state secretaries and heads of government departments and agencies.
Speakers included Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, National Economic Action Council executive director Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, PSD director-general Tan Sri Jamaludin Ahmad Damanhuri and former deputy prime minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam.
Abdullah said he was concerned over statistics provided by the Anti-Corruption Agency that showed that over half of the 1,352 people arrested for graft between 1998 and 2002 were civil servants.
This is an alarming situation and we must take immediate steps to curb this problem.
However, he added, strict enforcement and punitive action alone would not be enough to get rid of corruption.
What was required, he said, was a change in the mindset and attitude of civil servants to be trustworthy and disciplined enough to resist the temptation of easy money through bribery, he said.
In addition, the public service delivery system must become more user-friendly, efficient and effective.
Bribery and breach of trust are indications of flaws in the public service delivery system.
For instance, if a service takes too long to be delivered or is too complicated in its procedure, the public may resort to bribery to get what they need.
This is why the Government has taken steps to streamline, simplify and speed up procedures such as applying for licences and passports, he said.
He added that setting up the infrastructure for an efficient public service delivery system must be accompanied by developing a more advanced mentality for it to succeed.
Abdullah later launched the Public Complaints Bureaus annual report for 2002, which recorded complaints received and action taken by various agencies to solve the problems.
According to the report, the number of complaints made to the bureau decreased from 4,573 cases in 1995 to 4,202 last year while the number of solved cases rose from 1,429 in 1995 to 2,753 last year.
The number of complaints received in the first six months of this year also decreased slightly to 2,030 compared to 2,093 in the corresponding period last year.
Abdullah cautioned government departments and agencies not to rest on their laurels but to continue to improve the quality of their service.
He also reminded them not to dismiss complaints from the public but to give them due attention.
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