Friday, September 21, 2018

Trust versus Obedience

Malaysians who receive communication from their government would be familiar with the ubiquitous sign-off “Saya yang menurut perintah”, which literally means ‘I, who follow orders’ in English. 

Actually, we got it wrong because the Malay version is supposed to be a translation of that quaint colonial bit of politesse, “Your obedient servant” – and colonial British-era civil servants used the latter form when writing to others to convey that they were servants of the people. 

Supposedly lah. Anyway, they were just words that were pleasing to the ears and might not necessarily be remotely true. 

To the Brits, if you don’t know, correct form is everything. But these words somehow got lost in translation together with the sentiment behind them. 

Whatever, but effective yesterday, the phrase “Saya yang menurut perintah” is no more in use in official government letters. 

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to change it during the town hall meeting he had with administrative and diplomatic officers on August 15, 2018. 

Instead, civil servants In Malaysia will all now end their letters with "Saya yang menjalankan amanah" (I, who uphold trust). 

Public Service Department director-general Borhan Dolah explained: "In this context, “amanah” (trust) means to willingly and diligently fulfil tasks and responsibilities in the determined capacity with sincerity to achieve the objective”. 

He added that “amanah” also means "sifat luhur dan murni" (honourable and virtuous), and honesty to yourself, your peers and the organization. 

Since Mahathir (for the second time) took over the reins of government and found that even the civil service is rife with corruption and other ills – he didn’t want government employees to simply follow ‘orders’ from their political masters. 

Hence, in this very Malaysian context, ‘trust’ replaces ‘obedience’. 

Yesterday, I was at Menara Sunway in Bandar Sunway, Selangor to attend the Shine Toastmasters meeting. I didn’t have a role or speaking slot – but nevertheless, I took part in Table Topics – just so, I had an opportunity to speak, haha! 

And I was voted Best Table Topics Speaker. 

It was also nice to meet Paul Tan, my former student from Nilai College (now Nilai University) – and I’m glad to know he has returned to Toastmasters. 

Anyway, photos from Thursday’s meeting:

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