Members of the public have a right to demand better services and greater accountability from central and local government, delegates heard at a major Commonwealth conference in Malaysia today.
At the opening of the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) conference, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland encouraged public servants to be less “cautious and timid”, to embrace a culture of creativity, and to tackle corruption.
“Most public services lack the competitive spark that normally spurs private sector enterprises to craft new products and services. There is sometimes a lack of appetite for innovation and invention,” the Secretary-General stated.
More than 1000 delegates from Commonwealth countries are attending the biennial conference, which is being held in Malaysia for the second consecutive time.
The three-day event was opened by CAPAM President Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on Thursday 18 August under the theme, 'Innovation: A Public Service Imperative'.
In her speech, Secretary-General Scotland urged citizens to expect high standards of their public servants as she called on central and local government leaders to establish incentives that recognise and reward innovation.
“There is now greater demand for transparency and accountability in the public service. The public want to see results and better use of their taxes,” she said, adding that embracing this approach would help to achieve national and global development goals.
The Secretary-General also praised the “unequivocal determination” of government leaders who, at the Commonwealth’s Tackling Corruption Together conference in May 2016, pledged to strengthen integrity efforts and tackle corruption.
It was important to end impunity, root out corruption, empower victims, and support activists and whistleblowers, she said. “Such commitment is vital to the forming of a global coalition of goodwill and good practice to bolster transparency and good governance.”
The CAPAM conference follows the 6th Biennial Commonwealth Ministers for Public Service Forum, on Wednesday 17 August 2016, also hosted by Malaysia. In a joint message yesterday, the Ministers stressed the importance of “building effective, transparent and accountable public institutions”.