Sunday February 17, 2013
Efficient civil servants make us smile
SUNDAY STAR SAYS
THE report that Cuepacs wants to make 2013 the year of the smile will surely bring a smile to your face. Some smiles may be cynical but we must give credit to Cuepacs for acknowledging forthright that smiling has yet to become a culture among most civil servants, despite the many campaigns over the years.
It is a fact that there has been major improvements in public service delivery over the years, especially after the setting up of the Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (Pemudah), a public-private sector collaboration to improve service delivery and the nation's competitiveness.
Some walls between the bureaucrats and the people they serve have come down, with changes that have impacted both the business community and the ordinary citizens.
Frontline services, especially in the high-traffic areas, have improved by leaps and bounds. And, to a great extent, this has been helped by civil servants with a friendly demeanour. In the busy world of queues and landing in the wrong department, a smiling officer at hand to offer help is probably better than one with a frown on his face.
But to put it in perspective, smiles are just the outward expression that can either be genuine or a front. And what the public look for, more than anything, is a civil servant who is efficient and effective, even if he or she does not smile a lot.
Cuepacs president Datuk Omar Osman is spot on to suggest that civil servants should not bring their personal problems to work, because a happy mood at the office is essential for better productivity. It is the same also with the private sector.
Beyond the frontline staff, we must also note that the majority of civil servants work away from the watchful eyes of the public. They are the ones who can determine how fast a file moves and how effective they are is dependent on how seriously they view their responsibilities. Not whether they are cheerful or grumpy at work.
Be that as it may, there is no denying that a smile is infectious by nature. In any group situation, the more people smile, the better the rest of us feel. Even if we are burdened with a big problem at home, being greeted by someone with a smile upon clocking in does have an effect.
And for the citizen at large, our hope is that the positiveness is translated into real work that will do justice to the belief that our 1.2 million civil servants are truly “civil” and always putting “service above self”. And when they smile, we will surely smile too.