Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Paul Low, said that the Cabinet had given the green light for the formation of the Department of National Integrity and Good Governance (JITN) a month ago.
The department would serve as the coordinating body to lead transformational changes in the public and private sectors focusing on good governance, integrity and human rights.
Currently bodies such as the Public Complaints Bureau, the Malaysian Institute of Integrity, the MACC and SUHAKAM handle the said issues individually.
Paul Low added being a department, it will have its own budget and staff to support the transformational changes that need to be done to meet the objectives under the proposed National Transformation 2050 (TN50) plan.
Rather than having more departments to play roles that would overlap the roles of existing agencies, the government should look into strengthening the existing laws and improve the procedures of the agencies that are already handling those issues.
Having a department just to coordinate issues and having these issues handed back to the existing agencies would only increase red tapes and amount of response time.
To ensure good governance we already have the Auditor-General’s Office to audit performances. Give them a stronger mandate to carry a whip to ensure that the various government departments and agencies perform to the expectations of the administration and the people.
The same goes to the other agencies where enforcement laws, manpower and remuneration can be improved to encourage better performance. Adding more departments and staff would only increase the amount needed to pay pensions in the long run.
Agencies such as the police and especially the MACC should be given more in terms of both manpower and remuneration. MACC suffers from lack of manpower – having some 1,900 officers to tackle graft issues nationwide. These same officers are also required to go around and create public awareness on the war against corruption.
Better remuneration for enforcement agencies would serve to reduce the chances of corruption taking place. This would be far better than having too many departments trying to do good, only to have performances dragged down by less enthusiastic officers.
Such allocation to have another department would be better spent on enhancing the knowledge of serving officers and government servants. Training not only makes a person or department better but serves as a morale booster for many. The same goes for housing. Such perks remove the opportunity for officers to seek more because of want.
In times such as this when the government should be getting more meat for bucks, it would have been more prudent for the government to improve its existing agencies and make them meaner, rather than creating new ones to do the same work.