PUTRAJAYA: Civil servants manning telephone lines and counters and having regular dealings with the public are now being taught to smile.
Many have begun attending week-long courtesy courses organised by public service training institutes around the country. The courses are aimed at making courtesy a way of life among government department frontliners.
The courses focus on things like what it means to smile and how we should treat our clients or the polite way to answer the telephone, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman said.
We have had such courses in the past but now we feel the need to stress on the issue again. We also hope that through these courses, we will be able to link the need to be courteous with the practice of our own Asian values, he told reporters after giving away prizes at the Putrajaya fishing competition held at the water recreation park here yesterday.
Samsudin launched the first such course with the theme Courteous Service for Clients at the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) last Thursday.
The courses follow an initiative by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to get civil servants to adopt such values in line with the Courtesy and Noble Values (Budi Bahasa dan Nilai-Nilai Murni) campaign.
Recently, some employers also complained that it was difficult to contact the Home Ministrys hotline for information regarding the recruitment of foreign workers as the line was often engaged or not answered.
Samsudin said that in line with the courtesy campaign, heads of government departments and agencies were also being told to carry out regular surprise checks on their staff to see if they were really courteous when serving the public.
Among other things, he wanted them to call their offices using the general telephone lines from time to time.
I have tried that a couple of times and I know how difficult it is to get through to the person I wanted to speak to. Although the situation is much better nowadays, I was once left waiting on the line.
Samsudin said it was important for heads of departments to feel what it was like to be treated like a member of the public.
Although the courtesy campaign for civil servants is spearheaded by the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, I feel that the heads of departments must be responsible for the behaviour of their staff, he said.
Cuepacs president Nordin Abdul Hamid said he hoped that the courses could be held continuously for all civil service staff.
We don't want these courses to be held just for this year when the Government is conducting the courtesy campaign but also in the years to come as well. There have been courses before for staff on how to manage information counters.
But there is still room for improvement and I believe there is need for civil servants to be more courteous, he said.
On the scheduled meeting between Cuepacs and the Public Services Department today on the implementation of the Efficiency Level Assessment (PTK) test, Samsudin said he hoped this could be held in a friendly atmosphere.
Let both sides give their views on the matter, he said, declining to comment further.
Cuepacs had asked that PSD abolish the PTK as a means of promoting civil servants.
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