Editor’s note: Two expats living in Vietnam have expressed their thoughts in response to a call by Tuoi Tre News following the proposal of a code of conduct for public servants in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the proposal, a dress code for male public servants would be a shirt, trousers and no jeans or T-shirts, while female workers would be required to wear an ao dai, the Vietnamese traditional dress, trousers, suits, or knee-length skirts.
Public servants are also expected to use polite and clear language and not shout at people or use slang while working with residents.
They would also be required not to consume alcohol either at work or during break times or to smoke at their workplace.
Additionally, under the proposal, while at work they would not be allowed to wear headphones, listen to music, play computer games, use electronic devices for personal purposes or to access websites unrelated to their work or responsibilities.
During my 14 months in Vietnam so far, I haven't had any bad experiences with public servants. However, I think the proposed code of conduct for Ho Chi Minh City is very reasonable. It's important to be professional at all times when you are representing a respected institution or establishment.
It's important for public servants to be courteous and professional, especially when in contact with foreigners or expats, because their actions, however good or bad, will leave a lasting impression not only on the specific agency or institution, but also on the country.
When I lived in England, I worked as a police officer. There is a very strict code of conduct on how to behave and conduct yourself during your duties as an officer. These rules varied from having to be well-dressed in uniform, clean shaven and have no visible tattoos, to keeping your beliefs, opinions, and personal lives separate from your role. Above all else, it was important to remember that in your job, you were representing an institution, not just yourself as an individual, so you were expected to mainatain a high standard of professionalism and respect towards all people.
It's very common for public servants of all varieties in England to follow a specific code of conduct. The duties of public servants are important in every society. Their day-to-day job involves contact and interaction with members of the public, so it's important that workers maintain a high level of professionalism and respect towards all others. A dress code is important because it represents cleanliness. Moreover, the prohibition of electronic devices for personal use prevents lazy workers and encourages hard work. Rules and codes of conduct are set in place to ensure a job is done to the highest standard.
Moreover, I think when someone is happy and enjoys their working environment, they do a much better job. As well as setting a strict code of conduct to improve quality, the government should also listen to the opinions of the workers and take into account their wishes; for the benefit of everyone involved.
Jake Mallalieu from England
Singapore already does the same
It should be done. In my country, our government is very particular about the conduct of its civil servants. Civil servants represent the government, so their performance reflects the capability of the government. Besides, it's the citizens who pay for the salaries of civil servants, so they should serve the people well.
Most of the conduct stated in Ho Chi Minh City’s proposal is very what we are already practicing in Singapore.
The number-one principle that my government emphasizes is zero tolerance for corruption. Any civil servant involved in corruption is dealt with severely, they must pay fines, have their job taken away from them and then spend time in jail.
In my opinion, a civil servant should treat all citizens with the same respect without bias. They should be fair to all citizens without discrimination. They should also make sure that the information that they give to the public is correct.
To improve the quality of their work, you have to employ civil servants based on their capabilities and skills. There shouldn’t be nepotism. Pay them well to prevent corruption and give them the opportunity to improve themselves and be promoted.
Basically, people will be motivated to do a good job when they like what they are doing and take pride. Of course, they must also earn enough to support their families and reach a decent standard of living.
Living in Vietnam, I have encountered some problems with police and hospital staff. Some of the staff's knowledge is not good. For example when my wife went for a pregnancy check-up, we were surprised that the junior doctor knew little about Thalassemia. As for the police, they only seem to take care of their specialized area. When one is on leave, nobody else can process the documents. This is something that I find unacceptable. If a staff member is on leave, another should be able to take over the job. There have been a few occasions whereby my wife couldn't get documents stamped or collect stamped documents because the particular officer in charge was not around. In my country, when one is absent, another can do the job.
John Lim from Singapore