Thursday, April 3, 2008


Welfare officers need to buck up
Many complaints received from people, says Minister


The current policy of the Sabah Welfare Department is probably too bureaucratic and outdated, thus there is a need to improve the system to effectively meet the needs of the people. Making this remark yesterday, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hajah Azizah Mohd Dun suggested senior officers from the Department go to the ground to supervise all its offices and related institutions to see for themselves the real scenario. This is necessary so that all issues and problem that arise could be dealt with immediately” said Azizah, while delivering her speech at the closing of a seminar on improving the delivery system of the Department, which was attended by over 50 officers and staff from the Welfare Department. She said there is a need to set up an internal audit system in the Department to keep tab on the handling of financial assistance. The internal audit system will ensure accountability in the management of assistance, she added. Azizah said that as the Minister responsible for Welfare Department, she would not compromise on discipline and those found to have committed any wrongdoings or abuse of power would be dealt with according to the law. “Stern action would be taken should such problems or wrongdoings occur in the Welfare Department,” she said. Azizah also suggested more rehabilitation centres be set up for people with disabilities in urban and suburban areas as well as villages in the State so that they can be trained to be independent. She urged Welfare Department officers to be proactive in improving their services, especially for single parents, domestic violence victims, senior citizens and underprivileged children and those with disabilities. She said she has been receiving numerous complaints about Welfare Department officers being not fully committed to serving the public, such as not being responsive and sensitive to the needs of those requiring help from the Department. Furthermore, she said, some officers are not in the office during office hours and some are ignorant in handling cases under the jurisdiction of the Welfare Department. Asked at a press conference later whether the time taken by the Department to process applications for assistance should be reduced, Azizah replied: “To ensure that the Department provides their service effectively and avoid unnecessary bureaucratic procedures, I have suggested that the delegation of power be reviewed. “I have also suggested that the length of application be reduced to 30 days or one month.” Asked whether the officers at the district level should be allowed to make a decision on minimizing the bureaucratic process, she said that currently, it would not be possible as the approval of applications is based on the yearly budget.