PAP says civil service is “neutral”, sure or not?
Workers’ Party only cares about playing the victim card in Parliament.
So are they going to sack every one in the current Civil Service if they become Govt of the day? WP forgets if they are the Govt of the day, the civil service is obligated to develop and implement policies predicated on the political philosophy of theirs. The Civil Service does not develop its own agenda. It must be clear that Civil Service is neither a check on the political Govt nor extension of ruling political party!
Political leadership, civil service must share same major beliefs, values, ideals despite distinctive roles, he says
There will always be a fine balance between the civil service being neutral and non-political, and being politically sensitive and responsive, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
Singapore must continue to maintain this balance – even as it remains crucial that the political leadership and civil service share the same beliefs, values and ideals.
Speaking at the annual Administrative Service promotion ceremony and dinner at Shangri-La Hotel, Mr Lee set out the different roles of elected politicians and non-partisan civil servants.
Ministers look after politics: getting a sense of the ground, deciding the national direction, selling policies to the public and making them work. But a minister must also be hands-on in his ministry, articulating a clear strategy and making sure civil servants implement policies well. “He has to provide political guidance to the civil servants to deliver results,” said Mr Lee.
At the same time, he must also protect civil servants from political interference and not involve them in political activities.
As for civil servants, their responsibility is policy – translating political goals into workable plans.
The civil service is not independent of the elected government, unlike the judiciary, Mr Lee said.
And under Singapore’s system, the civil service must serve the government of the day. “The civil service must therefore understand the political context and the thinking of the political leadership.”
This is so it can design policies that are not only sound, but which will also have the people’s support and can be implemented well.
Yet civil servants must be politically impartial: They must not campaign for or against any party, nor misuse state resources or powers for partisan purposes.
Nor should they shy away from carrying out their duties when a matter is politically controversial.
Despite their distinctive roles, Mr Lee said, the political leadership and civil service must still share the same major beliefs, values and ideals. These values include meritocracy, clean government, multiracialism, inclusive development and economic growth. And the beliefs include that no one owes Singapore a living and the country must be exceptional to thrive.
In Singapore’s founding years, political leaders and civil servants were “cut from the same cloth”, said Mr Lee. So it is not surprising that some civil servants became ministers and civil servants were “talent-spotted” to join politics.
“For that was a generation when politics was on hold,” he added.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) had total dominance, holding every parliamentary seat for 15 years.
Had people not put party politics aside, “we might well have ended up with no country, at least not one we would be proud to call home”.
But Singapore is in a different phase today, said Mr Lee. The post-independence generation, born into growth and prosperity, has more diverse experiences and interests and wants to be heard.
“Politics is no longer dormant,” he added. The PAP is still in a strong position, but the opposition “has more fertile ground to till” and is constantly active, with elections fiercely contested.
“The political leadership and the civil service have to work hand-in- hand in this new environment, with each understanding its respective role,” he concluded.
At last night’s dinner, 65 administrative officers were promoted. Nine of them were among the 21 newly appointed officers.
In his speech,civil service head Peter Ong laid out three ways to develop strong public service leaders: Building a diverse leadership corps, forging deeper partnerships with stakeholders, and envisioning the future together.
The public service has launched an exercise akin to the SGFuture dialogue series. Called “PSfuture”, agencies will hold sessions to gather officers’ views and aspirations.