I REFER to the report “Hot-tempered man attacks supervisor over appraisal” (The Star, Nov 18). While I do not condone violence, and disagree with his behaviour, I believe that this annual work target appraisal system or sasaran kerja tahunan (SKT) needs a total revamp.
The system is meant to evaluate and appraise the performance of government servants and is done by two of their superiors. However, this system can be (and has already been) abused in many ways.
Assessment by superiors only results in an unbalanced evaluation. For example, the head of a department is evaluated by the hospital director who has probably never worked with him on a day-to-day basis or seen how he interacts with his staff. House officers should be given a chance to evaluate their medical officers and specialists. This will definitely curb the so-called bullying that is apparently rampant nowadays. With the current system, if one panders to every whim of his superiors, his yearly evaluations will obviously be more favourable compared to the one who doesn’t believe in sucking up.
A colleague was given a very low mark because she happened to disagree with her assessor over a few issues, and this affected her application for future postgraduate training and career progression.
It affects nursing staff as well; any conflict with their superiors (even though they may be correct) results in retribution in the form of a poor evaluation and appraisal. This affects their chances of enrolling into post basic training programmes.
Years ago, I myself was a victim of this system – for voicing out issues and complaints about my workplace (some of which are still not resolved). I was labelled by the hospital director as having disciplinary issues and penalised for that. Appeal letters to the higher authorities yielded no response. Thankfully, I have had very mature and professional assessors since then.
I brought this issue up during the Health Minister’s visit to my hospital but I hope that the other ministries would also cooperate and formulate a more balanced and accountable system.
DR TIMOTHY CHENG