Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Public service Survey: Who serves you right.

An interesting survey conducted on the govt public services of 22 countries.

Singapore tops the survey with a score of 89% and Malaysia goes past the line at a dismal 14th placing with 44%.

The Lion City roared in among the top five in all four categories:

- How well a government tailors information to citizen’s needs,
- how it interacts with citizens through multiple channels,
- the level of coordination between government agencies,
- and efforts to reach out to citizens about its services.

For the first time since its inception 8 years ago, the study also included the results of a citizen survey as part of the overall ranking.
I've had far too many experiences with the civil service on both sides of the causeway. And I have to say that I generally agree with the survey... ALTHOUGH I would not put Singapore as #1. Without going into too much detail, I'd say their airport security (who'll arrest your ass for being sarcarstic) and immigration staff need some work.

But then again, one of the categories surveyed is coordination between govt agencies - and this is one area Singapore excels at. So much so that they actually export civil service expertise to other govts in the form of consultancies and paid secondments. The Malaysian civil service on the other hand - excels at blaming god, the weather or each other when something goes wrong. The public works minister is even referred to as “playing the fool" for the past 22 years (ref: Malaysiakini).

Although I don't know what the survey respondents said to put Malaysia in 14th position, I have to say I'm not surprised. I've had several good experiences with Malaysian bureaucracy, but it is the rare exception rather than the norm. My guess that it's the same for everyone else.

But one factor really points out the difference between the Singaporean and Malaysian govt customer service.... Police personnel.

In Singapore, the policemen always address me as 'Sir' and are polite to a fault. Once, when I needed their services at a neighbourhood police post, the corporal manning the counter greeted me when I walked in, and told me that I had a 30 minute wait. He then proceeded to explain why and told me what my options were. Now comes the shocking part! He apologises for keeping me waiting.

In Malaysia, the policemen have never addressed me as anything except, "Mana I.C.?"

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