Steadfastly neutral and apolitical

Civil servants are committed to executing government policies, goals and agenda.

LETTERS: “We serve the government of the day” is a familiar phrase that has long being woven into the fabric of the civil service. An ethos instilled within and upheld by those who signed up for government service.

Advocating such a principle has gone blindingly obvious in the backdrop of mature democracy and the recent political turbulence.

Amid the political wobble, the government machinery in ministries, departments and agencies remains intact.

For us, the civil servants, it is still business as usual. We stand impartial, continue doing our work while offices and operations return to a semblance of normalcy. This is the epitome of professionalism and non-partisanship at work.

Ultimately, democracy necessitates the civil service to be consciously and studiously neutral, come what may. Even in dire straits, civil servants must take an unbiased position while upholding the rule of law without fear and favour in accordance with the Constitution.

We are also overwhelmed by the unprecedented political feuds, and like many, are also personally impacted and similarly concerned over how the rift would end.

The worry is justifiable because we have seen how things had turned ugly after governments in other countries changed overnight.

The infuriated could easily slip beyond the periphery of outrage, jump onto the activism bandwagon and spark riots.

The civil servants in Malaysia remain composed because of the responsibility we are entrusted with and the pride to uphold our professionalism that is above everything else.

We execute what we are expected to with professionalism — to assist and administer, to engage and disengage, to respond and question, to act and conduct, to adapt and adopt. After all, that is what a pragmatic civil service comes down to — being able to serve with integrity and to the best of one’s ability.

Just because we exercise our right to vote and cast our ballot during the election, it does not mean that apolitism is a myth. Likewise, being fully entitled to vote does not mean our political leanings should stand in the way of executing any of the government’s policies, goals and agenda.

Although our choice as an individual singularly impact us and may potentially impact the larger system, that does not prompt us to violate the values we firmly hold to while serving the government of the day, whatever the political inclination is.

No matter how boiling hot the political cauldron is, we should sit composedly on the fence.

There has already been countless discussions about the direction of the country. While many are still baffled, perplexed, unsettled or still trying to internalise what had happened with the political saga, we, the civil servants continue to buckle down and get our hands to the plough.

The political stalemate should not be the reason for a hindered productivity nor should it impede civil service excellence.

Think about it for a second: The face of the government may change but how the civil service is governed remains. The politicians come and go but policy implementers stay.

I am not speaking on behalf of all the public servants — far from it — but I can safely argue that many of those who signed up to become civil servants are genuine in meeting obligations despite sometimes being the lightning rod for criticism.

Ideally, the door must swing both ways — as much as the civil servants should faithfully serve the government of the day, the government of the day should also respect our impartiality.

Put succinctly, against all adversity, civil servants must always be mindful of the word “servant” that we carry.

Our moral compass should be set clear to serve the nation through the government of the day with equal degree of commitment, whatever the political ideology is.

Let us all stay impartial and deliver what we say we will.

by DR ZURINA MOKTAR.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/03/573256/steadfastly-neutral-and-apolitical

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