20th January 2018
HONOURABLE EDUCATION MINISTER, TAKE CRITICISM POSITIVELY
We refer to the Kwong Wah Jit Poh news report on 19 Jan 18, in which was reported the Education Minister, Mahdzir Khalid, told civil servants who criticized the government to quit their jobs. The minister allegedly made the statement at the education ministry’s policy briefing in Putrajaya. It was also reported that the minister said, “We do not allow them to work in the government agency while joining the opposition and even holding party positions. But it is acceptable for them to join the ruling parties and hold party positions”.
To be fair to the honourable minister, the actual context of the statement from which it was reported, is not known. Even if his statement was taken out of context, it is not proper for him to tell civil servants who criticize the government to quit their jobs. Criticism can either be outright and direct, or constructive. Either way a criticism is often seen as a truth from a different person’s perspective. The superior (in this case the minister) should take it positively, evaluate the points of contention, and communicate effectively why decisions are made. The teaching profession is generally held in high esteem and the majority of the teachers are university graduates. It is unwise for the minister to use threat instead of sound reasoning.
Our country needs to excel in all fields, including the teaching profession. We need a minister who is an exemplar of good leadership, to listen to criticisms, and also to motivate teachers to teach well our children who will be future leaders. Instead of talking down to the headmaster, it would be better for the honourable minister to challenge the headmaster to produce good results in his schools. Also challenge the district and state education officers to produce good results in their respective areas of responsibilities.
Politicians need to be reminded that a criticism is not necessarily negative. If the criticism is valid and for the good of the nation, then the critic is merely doing his/her patriotic duty. On the other hand if a civil servant knows of a wrong being committed and keeps quiet about it, then he/she is also legally and morally wrong.
Public service regulations do not allow civil servants to hold active positions or office bearer positions in political parties. We would like to think that it is a joke for Mahdzir Khalid to say that it is acceptable for civil servants to hold active positions in ruling political parties but not opposition parties.
BG Dato Mohd Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President - Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan