Strategic Partnership Programme (SPP) is a sub-module of Strategic Internship Programme (SIP) outlined by Institut Tadbiran Awam (INTAN) for Diploma Pascasiswazah Pengurusan Awam (DPA) participants.
SPP is introduced to expose participants to a real working environment in government organizations, to groom creative thinking among cadets and to instill confidence among cadets before serving in public sector later. For the first series of SPP, our group was attached to the headquarters of the Ministry of Health Malaysia in Kompleks E7, W.P. Putrajaya. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is the second largest ministry in Malaysia, after Ministry of Education. Currently, MOH is manned by more than 200,000 staff. MOH consists of seven programmes, 45 division/ units, and seven institutions.
I was chosen to be placed in the Policy Unit, Policy and International Relations Division. The unit is headed by Mr. Fazli bin Said, Senior Head of Assistant Secretary (KPSU). Mr. Fazli leads a team of two assistant secretaries (PSU) and two support staff (PT).
On the first day of the placement, I was brought to meet the Under Secretary (Setiausaha Bahagian) of the Policy and International Relations Division, Tn. Haji Suhaimi bin Jusoh. He warmly welcomed me and talked to me about his days as a Pegawai Tadbir dan Diplomatik (PTD) cadets. Being such a successful figure, he gave his thoughts that every PTD officer must do their duties with full honesty and integrity. Recognitions will be a bonus to our integrity, he said.
This is in line with core values that INTAN is instilling into the DPA programme. Later that afternoon, I was introduced to the Deputy Undersecretary, Mr. Mohd Farid bin Mohd Arif. He passionately talks about the importance of attention to detail among PTD. He especially highlighted on mistakes of a person’s name and title are very sensitive issues.
He wished that new PTDs to be more vigilant to avoid these simple yet important issues. In the second week of SPP, the cadets attached to MoH were invited to an interactive session with the Deputy Secretary-General (Finance), Dato’ Mohd Shafiq bin Abdullah. In the session, Dato’ Shafiq shared about his past experiences working in both private and public sector. He loves doing marketing during his days in the private sector and was attracted to join the public service to contribute his skills in finance to the country. He recalled his experience working with engineers in Ministry of Works Malaysia (KKR).
He conveyed the important message to cadets that both PTDs and technical officers from other ministry or schemes are a partner in deliveries with one common goal. It would be unwise for new PTDs to consider officers from other schemes as a threats or competition, considering the goal is to serve the nation. He also insisted that agility is one of the best traits that cadets need to learn to support the transformation of public service management. This very word is in line with INTAN’s decree of AKSARA which has been continuously imprinting in each of DPA cadets. During the session, Dato’ Shafiq also calls for new PTDs to embrace the culture of “learn, unlearn and relearn” i.e. keeping an attitude to endlessly learning new knowledge along with their career.
He gave an example, during his first posted to MoH, he made sure that he read scientific and medical articles to familiarise with the clinical terms. This new-found knowledge will ensure that the clinical arm of MoH – the doctors are able to trust his decisions as a leader. Before the session was concluded, Dato’ Shafiq insisted that skills such as event management and speech writing are the core skills that cadets need to master as a new PTDs.
Over the past two weeks, I have been given few tasks with regards to Policy Unit of MoH. During the first week, I was told by the KPSUK about the idea of public hospital autonomy in Malaysia. This idea was conceived by the Minister of Health, YB Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam. I was given a task to compare the structure of cluster school (MoE), Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), National Heart Institute (IJN) and one statutory body, which I chose Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM).
Comparison on the organizational structure, the legality, the financial structure, account and procurement management of these organizations were made through Internet reading, review of legal and policy documents as well as through direct phone call to MoE. During the second week of attachment, I was attached to Pn. Siti Nur Nadia (Nadia), an Assistant Secretary in the Policy Unit. Pn. Nadia was a cadet in “Kenchana” batch. Her first posting is in MOH. She has tasked me to write a minit ceraian (loose minute) in response to MoHE letter to MoH with regards to a Majlis Perundangan Pelajar Kebangsaan meeting held in September 2017. The loose minute is needed since MoHE requires MoH response to some paperwork presented during the meeting.
The Policy Unit is the coordinator to gather responses from three different divisions with regards to the issues. This minute will be presented to KPSUK of the Policy Unit, before further presented to the Undersecretary and Chief Secretary of MOH. Besides the details in formatting and spelling, feedback received from other divisions are checked for their alignment with current Acts, Regulations, Strategic Plans, Circular and Guidelines released either by MOH or by relevant government agencies.
Loose minute writing skills were exposed to the cadets during the second MP3 module in INTAN. That introduction has greatly helped in completing the task. Meanwhile during the third week, I was attached to the Senior Assistant Secretary (PSUK), Pn.
Yeshulavani a/p Rajeswaran (Pn. Yeshu). Pn. Yeshu is responsible for coordinating policy feedback either from inter-agencies or international governments. I was tasked to compile the regulations amendment plan and regulation amendment status for divisions in MOH. This compilation will be provided for the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) monitoring.
It is interesting to learn the existence of such independent body to monitor productivity among government agencies in Malaysia. To be more surprised, MPC was founded in 1966! – 52 years ago. Additionally, I was given a task to compile feedback received from statutory bodies under MOH with regards to their current board members. This is a monitoring measure, in line with the Government aim for 30% women representation in board members.
Feedback from the Medical Device Authority, the Malaysian Health Promotion Board and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) are compiled. The objective of 30% women representation by the end of 2018 in government-linked investment company, government linked company and statutory bodies was announced by the Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak during the tabling of 2018 Budget. The aim is one of the initiatives for “Year of Empowerment of Women” initiated by the Prime Minister.
This also shows the Government appreciation towards contribution given by women in the country’s development. Besides that, the Policy Unit also received questions from international delegates for the Malaysian Seventh Trade Policy Review. Questions were received from various countries with regards to the Malaysian trade policy review in every aspect. The Policy Unit is responsible to extract the questions that require MOH feedback.
These extracted questionnaires will be sent out to relevant division/ agencies in MOH for their feedback. The Policy Unit will coordinate with Multilateral Trade Policy and Negotiations Division of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). These three tasks may seem simple, however I learned important virtues through these tasks. Firstly, it pays to be detail-oriented when you are a PTD. Taking into example the Trade Policy Review, the document is a large document – reaching 150 pages, and the questions from international delegates are to be delegated to relevant division/ agencies within required timeframe. Error or delay in coordinating the feedback between these parties (i.
e. MOH, MITI and international delegates) could be detrimental towards Malaysia’s international trade outcome. This is aligned with the first message that was conveyed by the Deputy Undersecretary (Mr. Farid) when I was first attached to the division. Another virtue that I found was very important in the daily tasks of a PTD is great inter-personal skills. Interpersonal skills are very important in getting tasks done, especially for feedback compilation that requires multiple agencies/ division answers.
Besides between external parties, communication skills between PTD and the support staff is also very important to ensure tasks are completed within the dateline. The third and one of the most important virtues that I learned is integrity. Being in Policy Unit, secrecy of confidential documents/ information is at the utmost important.
The PTDs and support staff here also echoed the same message as being the coordinator of new policies that could be leaked to general public, before its official announcement by relevant authorities are a major integrity issues. At present, with the wide use of social media, extra caution is to be taken to ensure these confidentiality remains within the Ministry walls. The ministry responds to this issue by releasing a circular, “Surat Pekeliling Ketua Pengarah Kesihatan Bil 10/2016” that prohibit any sharing of sensitive information on social media by MOH staff. Besides documentation-wise, I was also exposed to be agile in the working world.
Case in point was when an ad-hoc meeting with the Health Minister were informed to the Unit one and half hour earlier. Cooperation between the officers and support staff to organise the ad-hoc meeting was really on point. These virtues are practiced in DPA whereby agile is one of the key virtues in AKSARA while team-work is constantly experienced through completing tasks and assignment in group during each module. During my last days at the Ministry, I attended a discussion with the mentor, En.
Fazli (Penyelia Lapangan, PL) to discuss on the presentation slides that I have prepared. He gave lots of feedback for improvement of the presentation slides.