Kedah bans officials from golfing overseas, during office hours

ALOR STAR: Kedah has barred its civil servants, especially high-ranking officials, from golfing overseas or during office hours to avoid opportunities for corruption.

Speaking during his 2017 New Year address to the state's civil servants today, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said this was to maintain the integrity of the government and its departments, and that the ban was effective immediately.

"This ban on golfing overseas or participating in golf packages with contractors, suppliers or interested individuals during officer hours applies to all officials from the state departments and agencies.

"The image of the state and federal administration must not only be seen as clean, with zero corruption, competent and efficient, but should also steer away from any acts that are against the law," he said at Wisma Darulaman, here, today.

Ahmad Bashah said although leisure activities as such are necessary, it was not right to do so during one's working hours.

"So, don't go bringing your contractors to play golf. Stay clear from corruption and any lavish lifestyle as suggested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) previously.

"Perform the trust given to you nobly and with integrity, to further strengthen our credibility," he said.

Ahmad Bashah directive follows a similar warning by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron earlier this month.

Idris had banned civil servants in the state from playing golf during office hours from 8am to 5pm, even while on vacation and on weekends.

He said the measures implemented since he became chief minister in 2013, among other things, aims to protect the image and the story of the civil servants and state governments, especially in the eyes of the people.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad had, earlier this month, reminded civil servants against overseas golfing trips, especially in Indonesia and Thailand, as it provided room for corrupt practices.

"They are not professional golfers, and there is no need for them to go abroad just to play golf," he said, adding that the agency was continuously monitoring and had information regarding activities conducted by government officials.

His deputy, Datuk Azam Baki, echoing Dzulkifli's call, said golfing, along with those living beyond their means, keeping mistresses or having girlfriends are indicators of corruption, will find themselves under the scrutiny of the anti-graft body.

"While this does not prove that they are corrupt, these are signs. So, our intelligence officers will investigate if the money is illegitimate," he said, adding that corruption most often occurred at the top management level of government departments, especially those involved in procurement or enforcement.

Chief Secretary to the government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa also, on Jan 10, said that while golfing or other similar activities are not prohibited, these must be done as hobbies without involving interested parties such as contractors.

He also disclosed that the Public Services Department (PSD) had taken action against several senior officers of a department who were involved in golf matches overseas.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Bashah has called on all Kedah state departments and agencies to practise casual management in a bid to bring the public closer to them.
The state departments and agencies have also been told to re-evaluate their standard operating procedures within a month to improve their delivery system to the public.