Leadership is indeed a critical component of good public governance. By governance, which the underlying values of a nation are articulated and institutionalised. It is these values that will guide the actions of public officials throughout the system and they must be embedded in culture. The question is how we actualize these values in the public service. The primary function of public service is to translate the national vision into tangible outcomes. The Malaysian Public Service has been successful in their efforts to drive national development and nation building as well as enhancing and upgrading capacity and capabilities. Within a short period of five decades, we have managed not only to build our nation, but set our foothold in the global arena. These developments congruent towards a maturing society and a maturing nation. The challenges of the 21st century however, is to steer the nation into a new dimension both locally and globally.
It is alarming to note that despite the numerous measures undertaken to improve the public service delivery, a recent survey by the Malaysian Integrity Institute, indicates that the public’s impression of public service delivery is even lower than its perception on corruption. In this context, there is a need for the profiling of the public service image. The public service must look at its role with a new pair of eyes and through a fresh lens to ensure it rises to the challenges put before Malaysia with unsullied solutions. Profiling the public service image can be translated through the inculcation of values which must be embedded among the public officials and transcends throughout the system. By culture for excellence, setting high standards of performance with tangible goals and realistic plans to achieve them. This would require a change from an input-oriented practice to outcome-based approaches.
The outcome-based approach provides transparency, as such, the progress of projects and programmes are more easily monitored towards the prescribed goals. The public also has the opportunity to see its value for money. The implementation of this approach is anticipated to improve performance and public accountability. Demanding a high standard of performance by itself however, is inadequate if there is no follow-through and follow-up action. We are often praised for having the best plans, unfortunately often lacking in the drive and commitment in its implementation and completion. The public service should no longer be satisfied with merely mediocre performance and therefore, leadership in the public service must demand a high standard of performance. We must always challenge and stretch ourselves and never be afraid of coming out with new ideas and approaches. Attaining seamless service delivery is still one of the major problems confronting the public service today. World class public service delivery can only be achieved through a high level of inter-agency collaboration.