PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Cut the pomp, pageantry and grandeur but ensure that programmes still have their impact on the people.
That is the thrust of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's message to his Cabinet at their first meeting of the year, which he chaired on Wednesday (Jan 6).
Datuk Seri Najib wants his ministers to ensure that their respective ministries exercise prudent spending in the wake of a weak and uncertain global economy.
He told them that ministries should ensure no wastage and that while programmes should go on, these should be done on a smaller scale, yet remain effective.
"He wants to see ministries spend wisely and only on necessities," said one minister.
"That is what I intend to do and will relay the Prime Minister's message to the staff.
"It is important for all civil servants to play their part to ensure that allocations are spent wisely."
He said the Prime Minister, however, did not touch on having the 2016 Budget being revised due to falling oil prices.
The three-hour meeting saw all 36 ministers attending, including Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
In reflecting how 2015 was for the country, Mr Najib reminded his Cabinet that this year would be even more challenging for the government.
"Therefore, we must make sure the people's grouses are resolved as much as possible," said another minister.
"The Prime Minister wants even the smallest of issues be dealt with by the ministries."
He said the Prime Minister had led by example when he visited a school after the meeting to inspect its rectification works.
In October. Mr Najib made a surprise visit to the school and pledged to upgrade the building for the benefit of its 280 pupils.
In keeping the public informed of the work done by the government, Mr Najib wanted ministries to be quick and effective in disseminating information, including through information charts, graphics and videos.
"He also reminded us again to go to the ground to interact and listen to the people," said the minister.
"Talk to the rakyat (people) and find out what concerns them, and what the government can do to help, is what Najib wants.
"We are all aware that 2016 will be a challenging year. As ministers, we are prepared to work to ensure the people are happy and for them to have continued confidence in the government," he added.