ETHICS are essential if we are to have a clean, efficient and trustworthy civil service.
Civil servants must develop a culture that will pave the way for the emergence of not only a dedicated, efficient and ethical civil service, but also one that emphasises management integrity.
To achieve this, it is necessary to have a work culture that incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency.
While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what is important in the final analysis is to ensure the practice of these noble values by all. Mere slogans and lip service are not going to help.
Corruption has been with us since the beginning of human organisation. Yet, we cannot be unconcerned and complacent, because it attacks not only the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.
Corruption is pervasive, affecting almost every aspect of life. From the person who wants his business application to be processed fast to those who want to expedite their application for low-cost housing, bribery can take place. It manifests itself in many other forms when the public interacts with the authorities.
It has been proved in many instances that an individual takes bribes because he is greedy and presented with opportunities to take bribes. Greed is the motivating factor behind most if not all corrupt practices.
Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. To eradicate such practices, all law enforcement agencies should have an internal control system that can detect irregularities.
Efforts should be continuously made to instil integrity and ethical values because people of high integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices in any circumstances.
Public administrators and civil servants must discharge their duties with integrity and honesty, besides being ethical and transparent.
I believe that the inculcation of noble and ethical values accompanied by adherence to the oath of good governance are the most effective ways to fight corrupt practices in the civil service.
The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools and information to combat corruption. Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce competitiveness.
The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum.
In this context the enormous cost of corruption is being explicitly recognised as is the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.
When local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to citizens, decision-making can become participatory.
In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers.
The challenge facing local governments is to develop innovative ways of building effective, accountable and transparent systems.
Cities that implement and sustain accountable and transparent systems as well as good governance can expect to attract financial and human resources and become exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.
In the final analysis, preventing corruption helps to raise city revenues, improve service delivery, stimulate public confidence and participation and win public support.
In line with the creation of transparent local authorities, steps must be taken to instil moral and ethical values among their staff.
This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his duties to the public.
The answer lies in every Malay-sian, whether or not he is prepared to make honesty and integrity a way of life.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE