Pengenalan Ombudsman

PENGENALAN

Ombudsman dan Pejabat Ombudsman Universiti Sains Malaysia telah ditubuhkan pada Julai 2011 selaras dengan penguatkuasaan Perlembagaan baru Universiti Sains Malaysia pada 1 Julai 2011 yang lalu.

Pejabat Ombudsman Universiti Sains Malaysia diamanahkan untuk menjalankan tanggungjawab bagi menyediakan proses inkuiri aduan dalaman yang bebas, tidak berat sebelah, sulit dan mengikut keadilan dan penyelesaian yang adil dan saksama kepada semua warga Universiti iaitu pekerja dan pelajar Universiti. Di samping itu, Ombudsman Universiti Sains Malaysia boleh membuat syor-syor, yang mana sesuai, kepada Pengurusan Tertinggi Universiti, untuk penambahbaikan proses penyampaian dan sistem perjalanan Universiti.
 

Aduan Sebagai Penambahbaikan Nilai Baik dan Integriti Universiti

Aduan yang diterima dari seseorang individu tidak semestinya sesuatu perkara atau aduan yang negatif. Kekuatan sebenar sesuatu aduan ialah ia boleh menyumbang kepada penambahbaikan dan kesan positif sesuatu aduan bergantung kepada cara penyampaian dan yang paling penting cara ia diterima dan diselesaikan oleh organisasi tersebut.

Sesuatu aduan haruslah ikhlas, tidak bersifat peribadi dan bukan hanya untuk melepaskan geram terhadap seseorang. Aduan haruslah berasaskan ketidakpuasan sebenar disamping disertakan bukti untuk menjadi asas kepada sesuatu aduan.

Aduan boleh dibuat oleh warga Universiti Sains Malaysia sama ada pekerja mahupun pelajar kepada Pejabat Ombudsman jika mereka tidak berpuas hati terhadap sesuatu perkara. Mereka boleh menggunakan pelbagai cara untuk menyalurkan aduan tersebut seperti perjumpaan terus, panggilan telefon ataupun emel kepada Ombudsman.

Pengadu akan mendapat perlindungan di bawah Akta Perlindungan Pemberi Maklumat 2010 dan Perlembagaan Universiti jika kesahihan laporan dibuktikan.

Ketika membuat aduan, sertakan maklumat dan bukti terperinci dan memberikan punca masalah dan bukan setakat kesan yang dihadapi. Dengan demikian, barulah Ombudsman dapat memperbetulkan kesalahan serta membuat penambahbaikan terhadap perkara yang diadukan tersebut.

Segala aduan kepada Pejabat Ombudsman adalah dialu-alukan kerana aduan anda mampu memberikan peluang kepada Universiti dalam membuat penambahbaikan dalam struktur governan penyampaian terbaik Universiti disamping memenuhi kehendak governan insani di Universiti.

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Ombudsman Office

Universiti Sains Malaysia* 

by

Prof. Dato’ Seri Dr. Md. Salleh  Yaapar

Ombudsman

The Ombudsman Office of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) started its operation officially on 1st November, 2011. It is located at Suite 141, Kompleks Eureka, USM’ Main Campus in Penang. The first office of its kind in Malaysian universities, it is an initiative undertaken to realize one of the main pillars of the Accelerated Programs for Excellence (APEX) transformation in ensuring good governance and integrity within the university ecosystem. This is in line with the provision of Section 15 of USM’s New Constitution dated 1st July 2011. The Ombudsman Office of USM is now a recognized member of the well-known International Ombudsman Association (IOA), based in Seattle, USA.

Ombudsman (om budz man) is a Swedish term, meaning “representative of the people” in the sense of a person who, on behalf of the higher authority within an organization, receives, investigates, and resolves complaints coming from members of the organization or the citizenry.  More than handling complains, the Ombudsman (also referred to as Ombudsperson or simply Ombuds) mediates and resolves conflicts without going to the court. He/she may also offer ideas on how to smoothen the management of the organization, thus enhancing its governance, promoting integrity, and increasing work satisfaction along with productivity.

Conceptually, the Ombudsman Office is quite similar to and has its origins in Muḥtasib (محتسب), the office responsible for hisbah (accountability), and Diwan al-Mazalim (Board of Grievances) during the classical age of Islam. The modern institution of Ombudsman was first introduced in Sweden in 1809. But, as stated earlier, a similar institution, the Muḥtasib, was already in existence in the classical age of Islam.  In fact, the Swedish version came about only after King Charles XII of Sweden learned of the institution in Turkey during his exile after the Battle of Poltava in Russia in 1709.  Indeed, starting with Qazi’ul ’Quzat (“Judge of Judges”), Turkey has a strong Ombudsman/Muḥtasib tradition, long before its appearance in Europe. A century and a half later after its introduction in Sweden the institution started to attract the attention of the English-speaking nations, including the United States of America. Today most organizations, including universities, in America and Europe, have their respective Ombudsman Offices.

As a member of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA), the Ombudsman Office of USM operates in accordance to the standards of practice and code of ethics of the association, specifically in terms of function and integrity principles. Viewed in this light, the functions of the Ombudsman Office may be summarized as follows:

  1. As Facilitator in Situations of Conflicts. The Ombudsman Office is expected to help the University’s senior management in mediating and solving all complaints and internal conflicts, in an equitable manner. This will help to reduce hiccups while enhancing excellence in governance and integrity within the University. In mediating and resolving conflicts the Ombudsman is vested with discretionary powers through which he/she could, independently and at arm’s length, intervene and resolve issues related to workplace and academic environments. However, he/she has no jurisdiction to hear cases.
  2. As an Agent of Change. The Ombudsman Office is also expected to offer views and ideas to the senior management regarding possible changes in policy or procedures, training of staff etc., which may be helpful in enhancing integrity, harmony and effectiveness within the University’s ecosystem. For example, he/she may recommend the concept of Human Management (vrs. Corporate Management). Human Management gives priority to the soul and other inner elements of the human person. According to this management model, basically every person should be true to him/herself, thus he/she will not lie to others. As William Shakespeare puts it,

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Thus, according to this model, first and foremost every staff and student of USM should be coached to be internally good. This will lead them to be good to their colleagues, honest in their dealings with others and productive in their works. 

 

Photo Credit: Ombudsman Office of USM

In terms of integrity principles, again as a member of IOA, the Ombudsman Office of USM handles and resolves all internal complaints and conflicts by abiding to those principles upheld by the international association, namely independence, impartiality, confidentiality and informality. By independence is meant that in mediating and resolving conflicts the Ombudsman takes his/her own stand, makes his/her own judgement, and is not influenced by any party. Impartiality means that the Ombudsman is always neutral and unaligned. Confidentiality requires the Ombudsman Office to keep all communications and information secret. Finally, informality requires the office to avoid being bureaucratic and unduly formal in handling cases.

    As an institution, Ombudsman is fairly new in Malaysia. However, the existence and achievements of the Ombudsman Office of USM has been of interest to many parties in the country. Among them are Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and International Islamic University Malaysia. (IIUM). On 27th August 2017 MIDA sent a team from its Legal Office to the Ombudsman Office of USM seeking for cooperation and guidance in establishing its own Ombudsman office. This was followed by a similar team from IIUM which came for the same purpose on 11th March 2019. The Ombudsman Office of USM was more than pleased to welcome them, and even organized mini workshops to share knowledge and discuss relevant matters with them.

     Meanwhile, related to the above development, in May 1917 there was a media report regarding an initiative by the Sarawak government to set up an Ombudsman Office for the state. This was later followed by a media statement on 21st September 2018 by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, about the proposed establishment of the Ombudsman at the federal level. This would be an independent and transparent institution to replace the existing Public Complaint Bureau. The Prime Minister reiterated this idea and commitment on 30th October 2018, during the Anti-Corruption Summit organized by Transparency Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Ombudsman Office, January 2020.

*For a shorter version refer Universiti Sains Malaysia, “The Ombudsman Office: the First of its Kind”, in 50 Years of Leading Knowledge for Change,  Pulau Pinang: Penerbit USM, 2019, pp 146-47.