Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Malaysian civil servants to learn manners, smiling

TOO RUDE A campaign is being launched in Malaysia to change the image of civil servants as being ill-mannered, lazy, unsmiling and inefficient

AP , KUALA LUMPUR

Civil servants in Malaysia must learn good manners and smile more in a campaign to change their image of being rude and lazy, and government officials plan to monitor their progress by posing as members of the public, a report said yesterday.

The training courses for the 850,000-strong civil service are aimed at making those who deal with the public more courteous and helpful, the Star newspaper reported, citing Samsudin Osman, the chief secretary to the government.

Undercover

Senior civil servants will go undercover as members of the public for phone calls to government agencies to hunt for employees who are rude or inefficient, Samsudin said, though he didn't specify what punishment they might face.

"The courses focus on things like what it means to smile and how we should treat our clients or the polite way to answer the telephone," the daily quoted Samsudin as saying.

People often complain of bad service at payment counters for utilities: Cashiers can be found chatting about lunch plans or domestic problems while delivering withering glares at customers who demand service. Getting through to the right official on the telephone sometimes becomes a merry-go-round, with callers bounced from one department to another.

Victim

Samsudin said he himself has been a victim of slow government bureaucracy.

"I know how difficult it is to get through the person I want to speak to," the Star quoted him as saying.

Nordin Abdul Hamid, union chief for government employees, said the courses should be held more regularly, saying "I believe there is need for civil servants to be more courteous."

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