E-govt and civil service

14 Oct 2020 / 16:30 H.

AS we move forward towards Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0, everything is going to be digitalised. The changes are fuelled by technological breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.

This also applies to the civil service as Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced the implementation of the e-government system which could open a more viable path to the transformation of the public service.

The idea is in line with the development of technology that will help ease the burden on government servants and help the civil service to be more structured in terms of work process and procedures.

In addition to that, it will boost administration operations and increase productivity as well as promote public service effectiveness.

As for now, it is likely that around 40% of public services can be done online or digitally and the percentage will only go up in the future.

The prime minister has also given assurances that there will be no downsizing of the 1.6 million-strong civil service as a result of the ongoing implementation of the e-government system.

This assurance is a relief to the government servants as the issue of reducing the size of the civil service is always a worry for them, especially at this difficult period when the whole world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Civil servants can carry out multiple tasks to enhance the delivery of public services,” Muhyiddin said.

“The use of technology cannot be avoided, but the civil service workforce must also find ways to improve work quality,” he said.

“For example, if before this three people were needed to accomplish a single task, only one would suffice once the e-government is implemented, while the other two can work on other tasks.”

While acknowledging the fact that job scopes may differ once e-government fully takes off, the prime minister said the technologies applied would add value to the public service delivery.

Muhyiddin said he was satisfied with the performance of civil servants, but nevertheless expressed confidence that the bar could be set even higher.

The fact is we still need physical human touch to ensure government services are delivered efficiently.

E-government is a positive milestone and could give vast impact and contribution to the development of the country as a whole.

Besides the implementation of online services, the government is also looking into optimising the roles of civil servants to increase the effectiveness of government delivery to the rakyat.

In regards to that, there were recent media reports quoting Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman as saying that the government is drafting the Human Resources Optimisation policy as a replacement for the Civil Servant Rightsizing Policy.

Under the new policy, the 1:20 ratio will be used which is one government officer serving 20 people.

“The new policy is being drafted so that there will be no more ‘oversupply of civil servants’ issue, which also causes financial implication in the long run,” Mohd Khairul Adib told reporters.

He said regardless whether the policy was approved or rejected by the Cabinet, the government would still maintain the same number of government officers in the country for the time being.

Even though the role of government officers would also be changed as the country becomes a developed country, there will still be differences in term of services needed in the urban area compared to the rural areas, he said.

In a broader sense, it can be clearly said that the role of civil servants is mainly to serve the rakyat and uphold the spirit of berkhidmat untuk negara (serving the country).

To illustrate more, the relationship between the civil servants and citizens is interdependent – both parties need each other in order to fulfil the needs for the continuity of services.

To sum up, with this new policy, the government will increase the civil servants’ productivity and efficiency while implementing e-government services in line with the technological changes.

All in all, civil servants are the backbone of the country as they ensure government policies are executed and delivered effectively.

The productivity starts with people and the labour of the workforce can be improvised by making investment in workforce management and training.

Henceforth, in transforming to a better nation in congruence with the advancement of technology, the civil servants are encouraged to equip themselves with knowledge especially in information and communications technology (ICT) and others that can be applied in the online government services.

Together, we unite in taking our country forward.

Wan Nur Madihah Wan Hazahari is a final year student at International Islamic University Malaysia, majoring in English for international communication.

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