COMMENT | The Proton Perdana comes to a halt in the porch of a multi-storey building. The welcoming party including the director-general (DG) is all dressed up as if they were awaiting the arrival of royalty. Except that there’s no red carpet, but a lift has been reserved for the visitor.
He is flanked by the DG and his two deputies as he is led to a “holding room” for “teh and kuih muih” – part of the standard operating procedure (SOP) in government departments.
Ten minutes later, they adjourn to the adjacent room where the meeting starts. Like being accorded opening remarks in an international seminar, the visitor gives a short address after which the anointed person takes the chair.
Fifteen minutes into the meeting, the visitor says: “Sorry, I have to leave as I have another meeting to attend at the Treasury. Before that, let me sign the attendance sheet.”
Once again the rigmarole starts – the meeting is temporarily adjourned and the visitor is given a rousing send-off. Staff line up to “salam” and express their wishes for a safe journey to the building two blocks away.
Dear readers, welcome to the civil service and its civilities. It is not my imagination but I have watched this a few times as a journalist. What I have described was no ordinary meeting. It was a typical board of directors’ meeting of a statutory body and the visitor was no ordinary Joe.
He was the secretary-general in one of the government ministries – the chief executive. That signature in the attendance sheet (for a paltry 15 minutes) could be worth up to RM10,000 in his pocket due to allowances claimable! This happens once a month at almost all statutory bodies and is replicated in several government-linked companies and agencies....