For the past couple of weeks, I have been to places like Rasau and Kemasik in Terengganu and Skudai in Johore as part of my government turun padang tasks. Well, I tell you we have been doing this for years, not only because Dato’ Najib or Tan Sri Muhyiddin said so. In fact it has been part and parcel of our jobs to visit schools even in remotest areas. My colleague , Azmi, was telling me he spent three months in the interior of Kelantan trying to understand and gatherings the facts on the hardships of teachers living in the interior. As a result of his investigations, the government agreed to provide incentives for teachers teaching in the hinterland. In those places, everything that we take for granted such as continous supply of electricity, running water (well, they have running water as well but it is running downstream!), cars, mattress, pillow, TVs, radios, or even bicycles is considered a luxury. So when the government said that we must turun padang more, I got the impression that they have not appreciated what we have been doing thus far or they did not know about it. When I visited a school in the boondocks of Jasin way back in the early nineties, the Guru Besar was so excited, he waited for me till 4pm, even though his school hours ended at 1.00pm. He said, all the years he was in the school, nobody from the Ministry or the state department has ever visited his school.
Having said that, due the prevailing economic condition there is this unwritten directive for us to tighten our belts and the first thing bosses normally do is to cut travelling costs. There is the irony of it. On one hand you are told to do more site visits but in the same breath we are told to cut travelling costs. The prevailing rules and procedures guiding the government servants on their travelling expenses is already quite terse as it is, what further restrictions must we put? More often than not, we are so tired of filing the numerous forms, we give up on claiming our incurred expenses. As my colleague Barnard told me many years ago; “Berkhidmat untuk Negara, Khazanah di Syurga”; we government servants are willingly forego many things on our traveling claims