Newly minted chief secretary to the government Ismail Bakar today declared that the era of civil servants blindly following orders was over.
In saying this, he also called on civil servants to uphold the separation of powers doctrine.
"In facing the challenges of a borderless world, every civil servant must be a leader who is capable of thinking creatively and critically and not only be a follower.
"The era where civil servants must follow orders blindly has passed.
"The separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary must be emphasised in ensuring that the integrity of the civil service is not questioned," he said.
Ismail added that civil servants should not be held back by the past.
"It would not be possible to implement new approaches if we are all still being lullabied by dreams of the past," he said.
Ismail did not elaborate on what he meant by dreams of the past, but urged civil servants to move forward in a “New Malaysia".
"At a time when we are moving towards an era of a New Malaysia, the civil service must also have the determination to move forward in providing the best service to the country and people," he said.
Ismail said among his initial duties as the new chief secretary would be to reform the civil service.
'Bersih, Cekap, Amanah'
Acknowledging that the civil service's reputation in terms of integrity and management has been tainted, he urged civil servants to improve in terms of competence, accountability, integrity, management, transparency and ethics.
He added that the civil service must close the gap with the people so that they have a "sense of ownership".
Ismail also urged civil servants to act swiftly and for their actions to should be grounded on the principles of "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah" (Clean, Efficient, Trustworthy).
Ismail, the former Treasury secretary-general, was appointed the new chief secretary, taking over from Ali Hamsa.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad handed over his letter of appointment on Aug 28.
Ali's contract of service as the chief secretary to the government ended the same day and was not renewed. He had served for more than six years.