Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Getting the right results for you and me

THE recently announced national key result areas (KRA) which are being pursued by the government would reform Malaysia into a more competitive economy with enhanced distribution of wealth and better quality of life for its citizens. Yes, they are meant for you and me.

The six areas covered are reduction of crime rate, combating corruption, widening access to affordable and quality education, raising the living standard of the poor, improving infrastructure in rural areas and improving public transport in the Klang valley. To ensure results are produced, each area is assigned to a specific minister who would be accountable for the outcome.

Presumably the next step would be the cascading of the responsibilities and tasks of delivery to specific ministries and government agencies and for specific action plans to be drawn up for immediate implementation. The cascading should also be accompanied by assignment of responsibilities to individuals within those government arms, including agreeing on the consequences if they fail to deliver what has been promised by the government.

Given the KRA is a national initiative, we cannot assume that the responsibilities to deliver would solely lie upon the government. Some desired results cannot be achieved without our support and cooperation.

Let us consider the target of improving global perception on corruption in this country, an area where the involvement of the private sector would certainly be one of the key success factorsThe government has indicated that among the steps that would be taken are the improvement in policies, procedures and enforcement of those policies and procedures as well as the use of open and restricted tender for all government procurements with certain exceptions for sensitive areas.

The citizens and private sector could certainly provide ideas, input and feedback in making regulations, rules and procedures simpler and more transparent. What is needed is the opportunity for such involvement.

If we take the Pemudah initiative as an example, improvements could be made within a short period if experts from government and private sectors work hand in hand to achieve the objective of reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and eliminating outdated procedures. All government departments and agencies could set up Pemudah-like committees and pursue very optimistic measurable outcomes in making dealing with government agencies a pleasant experience for all citizens.

Another low hanging fruit would be the implementation of initiatives that have been agreed upon or endorsed. For example the report by the Company Law Reform Committee which would simplify business rules should be implemented immediately and not be deferred any longer. This would certainly reduce the burden of compliance for many entrepreneurs who have been suffering in silence all this while.

The private sector could also introduce measures which would prevent corruption within their own organisations and avoid being involved in any form of bribery. Initiatives such as whistle-blowing policy, integrity pack and anti-bribery clauses in commercial agreements would cut down the incidence of corruption and chances of bribes being offered.

Many non-governmental organisations would be happy to provide advice and guidance in this respect if opportunities are provided to them. Further strengthening of corporate governance and integrity by the private sector as well as the public sector would reinforce the effort in reducing corruption in Malaysia.

The society as a whole should also register its strongest distaste towards corrupt practices irrespective of who the perpetrators are. Corruption creates a lot of distortion in the economy especially in the distribution of wealth and opportunities to citizens.

At the end of the day, it is society that shapes how corruption is tolerated in this country. We should be asking ourselves what efforts we have done in eradicating corruption from our society.

Whatever we feel about our education system, it is a very important component in eradicating corruption. The system should instil good values among young Malaysians so that the practice is viewed with the highest contempt; and not a tolerable behaviour as what was reported in the news recently. Would this be included in the KRA as well?

The open tender policy should be welcomed by the business community as a step forward in encouraging competition and rewarding performance. This would also make government spending more cost effective due to heightened competition among the suppliers and contractors.

Considering all the six KRA, the performance measures on combating corruption is less specific compared with the rest. It is hoped that more specific measures and result areas would be announced so that appropriate assessment could be made on whether the outcome in this area is as promised or otherwise. Perhaps the focus should be on reducing real incidence of corruption and not just on the perception of corruption.

Just like during our student days, awaiting the results of this initiative fills us with anxiety and hope.

The article was also published in the Financialdaily which could be read here:

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