“There’s no greater challenge and there is no greater honor than to be in public service.”Condoleezza Rice
Indeed, there is no greater honor than to be in the public service, serving communities selflessly with sincere passion. Yet, leadership in civil service in this 21st century is fraught with challenges, in which leaders need to show resilience and determination in the face of constant change.
Recently, Bait Al-Amanah was invited to present a series of Leadership Talks, with the objective of capacity building for the Timorese Civil Service.
Our Founding Director, Dr. Abdul Razak Ahmad presented a series of lectures on various topics including disruptive leadership in the 21st century, having a new mindset for public service, old vs new leadership culture, mobilizing agile leadership, leadership challenges in the developing world and gaps in leadership among others.
Besides that, Dr Abdul Razak also attended a few courtesy calls and high level meetings with key leaders of Timor Leste.
One of the highlights of the trip was meeting His Excellency Xanana Gusmão, the former East Timorese independence leader and politician who served as the first president (2002–07) and fourth Prime Minister (2007–15) of Timor Leste.
As president, he oversaw Timor Leste’s admittance into the UN in 2002 and into ASEAN in 2005. He also worked to develop the country’s economy, which relied heavily on the petroleum industry.
In addition, Gusmão pledged to encourage foreign investment and seek reconciliation with those who fought for Indonesia in East Timor’s long war independence. In going the second mile to pursue the re-establishment of relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia, he helped achieve a level of reconciliation between two nations that might otherwise have experienced on-going instability.
Certainly, this capacity building trip has been an enriching experience of learning best practices of governance and public service from one another.
Through dedication to the community and country with a core recognition that every individual is entitled to top quality service and courtesy, public servants can certainly make a difference in their communities. Not forgetting the need to seek continual improvement instead of resting on one’s laurels.
Margarent Chase Smith puts this aptly in relation to the civil service:
“Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”Margaret Chase Smith