Clarify legal violations, liability in Public Servants’ Code of Conduct

By:

Fiqah Roslan

Affiliations:

The Tiada.Guru Campaign

Policy Code:

3d Anti corruption

Problem Statement:

A major failure today is that even well-intentioned and well-meaning public servants are often illiterate in the law, particularly regarding misconduct and disciplinary violations.

Public servant administrators must prepare investigations and submit any disciplinary violations of their subordinates to the Public Services Commission, where a quasi-judicial proceeding is conducted. Think of administrators as the police and the Public Services Commission as the Court.

Shockingly and disturbingly, many administrators likely do not understand the critical requirements for these quasi-judicial proceedings, i.e., the principles of natural justice (“prinsip keadilan tabii”), documentation, witnesses, jurisdiction, time barred / statutory limits, etc.

Unfortunately, this negligence leads to many failed investigations and continued injustices. While we primarily advocate for a Public Ombudsman, until then, the Code of Conduct must be re-written in clear language and relevant examples clarified to serve as an understandable, accessible, and always-updated manual for all public servants (and the people).

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Until we empower our current public servant investigators—notably, the few honest that remain—many, if not most, of the disciplinary proceedings at the Public Service Commission (and/or unique commissions such as the Education Services Commission) will fail due to legal, evidentiary, and/or procedural grounds.

Proposal of Solution:

While we primarily advocate for a Public Ombudsman, this measure is a stopgap for the predominantly failing internal investigations.

To fix this glaring hole in today’s failed procedures, we must:

1. Create a single manual for all public servant administrators on the minimum requirements in misconduct investigations, including a thorough explanation of the legal principles, evidence, jurisdiction, time limits, witnesses, and other aspects of “natural justice”

2. This manual must be clearly explained so that even the lowest-level, most junior of administrators can easily understand the enormous responsibilities of their oversight position. It must include examples and references.

3. This manual must be justiciable in that obvious violations of the Code of Conduct can be taken to Court by ordinary citizens.

4. This manual must include the contact information of a centralized public service department whose only role is to guide and teach this manual to officers.

5. All public servants with any oversight (i.e., subordinate officers) must learn the manual and take a competency exam over its provisions; only passing marks may be promoted to oversight positions, with possible renewals.

6. This manual must be made public and easily accessible to any individual; the latest version must always be available online for free.

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