Dr Sim stresses on integrity, high discipline among civil servants

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(From left) Mohamad Zaki, Tiang, Loh, Dr Sim, Penguang, Mohamad Asman and Lau symbolically launching the ministry’s Integrity Day at the DUN complex today. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (March 8): Every civil servant needs to have integrity and a high sense of discipline to be able to deliver quality services to the people, said Sarawak Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.

Dr Sim, who is the state Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government, said the public have high expectations of the country’s civil service, especially now with cases of abuse of power and corruption within the government being widely reported in the media.

“Many complaints are received and channelled to relevant ministries, agencies and local authorities regarding the awarding of projects and service tenders to tenderers who have personal interests with the officers responsible for managing the projects,” he said.

The deputy premier said this when officiating at the ministry’s Integrity Day at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex in Petra Jaya here today.

Dr Sim said one of the reasons for the complaints was suspicion of personal interests of officers who manage projects or services.

“This occurs when civil servants neglect their responsibilities to ministries, agencies or local authorities, prioritising personal interests to the point of violating the laws, regulations and guidelines in force,” he said.

Dr Sim informed the attendees that the ministry did receive ‘poison letters’ containing allegations of power abuse but each case was fairly investigated to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

Rotation of staff between departments was among the measures taken by the ministry to reduce such incidents from happening, he added.

Another reason for public complaints, he pointed out, was the people’s misunderstanding of procurement procedures, such as tenders and quotations for a project or service.

To highlight his point, Dr Sim cited statistics from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) which showed 38 per cent or more than 300 of arrests were made for corruption offences among civil servants in 2022.

Thus, he emphasised the important roles played by heads of departments in monitoring their officers and ensuring they carry out their tasks with trust, transparency and accountability.

“The leader who neglects his or her responsibilities will be subjected to disciplinary action under General Order 1996,” he said.

Moreover, Dr Sim instructed his ministry and its agencies and local authorities under the ministry to ensure the initiatives under the Organisational Anti-Corruption Plan (OACP) are implemented according to the time frame set starting this year.

“Let us be united in upholding the value of integrity to ensure that ministries, agencies and local authorities thrive and support the government’s aim for Sarawak to become a high-income state by 2030,” he added.

Deputy permanent secretary to the ministry Elizabeth Loh, who gave a welcoming speech at the event, said this year marks the third year the Integrity Day programme was held at the ministry level.

She informed that an integrity unit has been established in the ministry since 2019 and integrity officers were also appointed among the officers of local councils.

However, the state has not yet provided employment warrants for the integrity unit in the local authorities, she added.

Thus, Loh said the ministry has suggested to the Sarawak Integrity and Ombudsman Unit to establish an integrity unit in local authorities and revise the requirement for integrity officers in the local authorities to attend Certified Integrity Officer (CeIO) course.

Besides, she lamented that some local councils have yet to implement initiatives under the OACP.

“I was informed that our integrity unit is activity conducting inspection of the implementation of OACP in small localities. This is our ministry’s effort to identify any problems faced by any local authority so the ministry can provide insight into the problem,” she said.

Among those in attendance were deputy ministers of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil and Michael Tiang, MACC state director Mohamad Zaki Hassan, Housing Development Corporation chief executive officer Mohamad Asman Ahmad and state Sewerage Services Department director Datu Ir Lau Hieng Ung.