STRATEGIES TO GO

Malaysia 2016 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Tan Sri Dr. Ali bin Hamsa, Chief Secretary to the Government, on increasing efficiency in the civil service, PPPs, and priorities for the short term.

Tan Sri Dr. Ali bin Hamsa
BIOGRAPHY
Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa obtained a BA (Hons) degree from University of Malaya before furthering his studies at Oklahoma State University, where he finished his Master’s in Economics. He went on to complete a PhD in Environmental Sciences and Economics in 1997. Previous roles included positions at the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Transport, as well as at the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). He holds a number of other board member roles and has played a key role in the strategic development of Malaysia.

A well-functioning civil service is vital to achieving economic objectives and driving national development. What measures have been implemented to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of government delivery services?

Among the first measures that I have taken since assuming the role of Chief Secretary in 2012 was to introduce the concept of humanizing the public service, which is in line with the Malaysia “People First, Performance Now” concept to create a people-oriented civil service. The concept is based on six guiding principles: openness; going down “on the ground”; engagement; striking a balance between spiritual and physical aspects; camaraderie or a sense of belonging; and collaboration and resource-sharing through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and NGO partnerships. In addition, the efficiency and effectiveness of government services depends on both the hard aspects (facilities, technology, systems and procedures) and soft aspects (human capital) of service delivery. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that civil servants are appropriately remunerated, provided with good career prospects, and equipped with the necessary training to enable them to deliver services that meet and even exceed the expectations of citizens. Moving forward, the improvements in the civil service will focus on the initiatives identified in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan and on further enhancing the efficiency and productivity of the civil service. The citizen and the customer will be placed at the heart of service delivery with the emphasis on speedy execution through innovative and creative approaches, while upholding high standards of integrity. Malaysia's efforts in innovation have been recognized internationally. Furthermore, under the Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), we have developed various ICT initiatives as efforts to enhance public sector service delivery systems and to create a conducive environment for business when dealing with government agencies. MAMPU also continuously helps public sector agencies in revising and reengineering their business processes. As of March 31, 2015, the number of government online services available was 10,802, or 80.52%.

What role will PPPs play in the Malaysian National Development Strategy (MyNDS)?

The Malaysian Government has established a partnership with the private sector since the inception of the Malaysia Incorporated Policy in the early 1980s. This policy has succeeded in strengthening the partnership between the public and the private sectors in developing the nation. In line with MyNDS measures, PPPs emphasize the need for the private sector to be the front-runner as well as the engine of growth of the economy. The government has also demonstrated a high level of commitment in facilitating PPP initiatives that are open to new ideas and innovation put forward by the private sector. Infrastructure projects listed under the MyNDS, namely highways, will be implemented through PPPs. The Public Private Partnership Unit (UKAS) under the Prime Minister's Department is a dedicated agency to oversee PPP development, and is responsible for facilitating the process.

What are your priorities between now and 2020, both as Chief Secretary and as Chairman of PEMUDAH?

My priorities between now and 2020 include ensuring the public service successfully implements the policies, plans, and programs identified under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan in a smooth and timely manner, guided by the five philosophies of pro-growth, pro-people, pro-business, environment friendly, and an emphasis on nation building; effecting continuous improvement and transformation in the public service so as to have a lean, productive, talented, and competent public service that is able meet the people's needs and expectations through excellent service delivery. I want to create a civil service that is receptive, responsive, and emphatic to the needs of the rakyat in line with the concept of Humanizing the Public Service, while cutting down bureaucratic red-tape to make processes more efficient and effective, thus lowering costs and enhancing the people's experience when dealing with government services. Finally, I want to utilize NBOS when looking for solutions or coming up with programs to address current needs.