KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The civil service must inculcate values of diligence and devotion as they are the foundation of the nation’s progress, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
In his address to the staff of the Prime Minister’s Department this morning, Dr Mahathir said Japan was able to rebuild after a disastrous outing in the Second World War because of the country’s strongly held belief in the importance of hard work and trustworthiness.
Explaining his “Look East” policy, he said both Japan and Korea have demonstrated what was possible when countries embrace strong work ethics and resist corruption.
“If you are lazy, if you cannot be trusted, then this country will never be developed,” Dr Mahathir said.
The prime minister also reminded the assembled civil servants that it was important to view their individual efforts in terms of their contribution to the country as a whole rather than only seeing the personal reward they accrue.
The Japanese also have a strong sense of shame, Dr Mahathir said, but not over any lack of wealth or possessions.
Instead, he explained that their shame arose over any failure to perform their work as well as they are capable of doing.
Again referring to the Second World War, he said defeated Japanese soldiers by the thousands chose to commit suicide by jumping off cliffs over of the shame of their country’s defeat.
“I am not suggesting that we also do the same; even though there are places here from which we can jump off, but there is no need to go to such extents,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said all that was needed was to learn from Japan’s obsession with excellence.
The prime minister also took the opportunity to take potshots at critics of the national car policy, saying that the Japanese fixation with high quality was why many Malaysians now preferred to buy Japanese cars over Proton models.
He asserted that Japanese carmarkers were able to draw on their country’s “pragmatic patriotism” in their early days when the reliability of their cars were patchy, and had banked on this local support until they were able to improve.
Telling the civil service that they have a greater responsibility than most for the country’s progress, he said the culture they develop will influence attitudes for the rest of the country.
Public workers must demonstrate their commitment to the nobler values and a clear rejection of dishonest and corrupt practices, he said when saying untrustworthy officials have caused the country’s debts and liabilities to rise above RM1 trillion.