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Tuesday, 22 May 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

PM: Help me achieve changes

PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked civil servants to give him their undivided co-operation as he handles his tasks as Prime Minister.

He said this should be “provided I do not commit any wrongdoings that are against the policies and laws of this country”.

Addressing staff members of the Prime Minister’s Department for the first time outside the Perdana Putra Building here since taking office on May 10, Dr Mahathir noted that in the past few years, administrators or civil servants had neither power to point out nor object when directed to do things that were not in line with the law.

“Maybe they were afraid. Or perhaps they had been bribed. But they (civil servants) had done some things that were not good which put the country at a disadvantage.

“As long as I don’t violate any laws, I hope all of you will give your undivided cooperation to me as Prime Minister,” he added.

Flanking him were Chief Secre­tary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, Public Service Depart­ment director-general Tan Sri Zai­nal Rahim Seman and the department’s senior deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali.

Dr Mahathir stressed the importance of adhering to the Federal Constitution and the rule of law.

“We must have an administration that upholds the country’s laws. It is in place not just to give powers to the Government but also protect the rakyat against criminals or criminal activities, including violations or offences committed by the Govern­ment.

“Rule of law is an integral element to the success of a democratic administration,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said for a nation to prosper, civil servants play a crucial role, adding they must uphold their pledge to serve the nation with full commitment and without any distraction.

“If the Government directs them to commit things that are against the law, it is the responsibility of civil servants not to accept or execute the directive,” he said.

Among issues from the previous administration which the Prime Minister highlighted was the state of the country’s finances, which he described as “seriously violated”.

“We now have to settle our debts which is running into trillions of ringgit. Previously, our debt was not more than RM300bil but now it has reached more than RM1 trillion. How we settle this depends on our efforts and ideas.

“Good working relations between the Government and civil servants is crucial for Malaysia to overcome challenges,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also announced that changes would be made to the PM’s Department, which would be done once a thorough study was made.

“I don’t have sufficient information to make the changes but I believe that with the knowledge of civil servants and the commitment by a Government elected by the people, we can make a positive impact,” he added.