Public servants should not be sycophants: PM

By Viet Tuan   January 7, 2019 | 12:34 am PT
Public servants should not be sycophants: PM
A government worker processes a citizen's documents in a public office in the central Da Nang City. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Dong
The PM has approved a new service etiquette guide for government workers that asks them not to flatter their superiors.

It enjoins them to lead virtuous lives, to be unfailingly courteous, polite and considerate, and be professional, responsible and effective in their work.

It specifically tells workers to treat their superiors in accordance to their places in the workplace, to follow their commands and not flatter them for "unethical motives."

Workers must also live honestly and humbly, not selfishly or opportunistically, it says.

Whoever violates the etiquette code would be disciplined or dealt with according to the law.

Yet according to the large public, the code will be hard to implement. Virtues, or even flattering, are abstract and it would be almost impossible to rule if an act is a violation, many readers wrote to VnExpress.

Also, the code will not work if the bosses enjoy the flattering and benefits that follow, thus what more necessary should be rules demanding fairness and integrity from employers in the public sector, they said.

This isn’t the first time Vietnamese government has officially demanded proper behavior and attitude from public servants.

Last April, Hanoi told its government employees they could not have ‘expensive’ or ‘extravagant’ weddings; specifically weddings with more than 600 guests at venues like 5-star hotels or resorts. Tattoos and ‘improper’ use of cologne or perfume were also banned for government workers in the capital city.

These strictures have not always been welcomed.

HCMC tried to forbid public servants from wearing T-shirts and jeans in the workplace in 2017, but the plan was scrapped after facing heavy backlash from the public.

Vietnam currently has approximately 2.8 million workers in the government payroll. They government sets basic wage of VND1.39 million ($60) a month for the public sector and the workers' monthly pay is calculated by multiplying the basic wage with a coefficient determined by qualifications and experience.

Officials have said a civil servant's income can cover 60 percent of basic living costs at best. The fact that many people with modest salaries still afford fancy houses and cars have raised questions about widespread corruption.

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