I refer to “Ong Ye Kung to Louis Ng: Generalisations tar public service ‘with same brush’”. CNA
PAP MP Louis Ng had earlier said that there is “a general consensus that people will get into trouble if they speak up in the public service”. This is a fact which every Singaporean knows.
Even retired public servant like Ngiam Tong Dow was forced to clarify after he made these comments about PAP elites:
CNA: “Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (Mar 1) issued a sharp rebuttal to Member of Parliament Louis Ng’s comments…”
The joke is Ong’s “rebuttal” is merely a denial without any supporting evidence that the majority of civil servants do not fear speaking up.
Ong has not provided instances of public officers speaking their minds strongly without getting into trouble.
Instead, Singaporeans are expected to believe that “employee engagement surveys and systems in place which recognizes officers” have produced a culture of fearless public officers.
Continuing with his what-public-servants-should-do “rebuttal”, Ong encouraged public servants to “inform their permanent secretary or the head of civil service or even have a word with me” if their “immediate superior is not supportive”. But what will likely happen is the employee will subsequently be marked by the immediate superior and his career hentak kaki.
The problem is PAP system discourages change because of the obscene remuneration paid to civil servants.
Change may be detrimental to these elites.
If a public officer from MOE is concerned with a bloated government and feels strongly there are ways to reduce expenditure instead of another GST rate hike, would he dare to suggest sacking the redundant 2nd MOE minister?
At the end of Ong’s “rebuttal”, PAP MP Louis was forced to apologise to his political master’s representative.
Louis then displayed his skill in flipping prata by acknowledging that ” all public officers can speak up without fear of getting into trouble”.
Kowtowing to Ong, Louis Ng admitted that he had generalized and “will be more careful”.
Louis had given public servants some hope for change but from his response to Ong’s rebuttal, it is likely that he was part of another wayang.
What happened to Louis’ “general consensus that people will get into trouble if they speak up in the public service”? Did he speak with only 2 or 3 public servants? Why did their feedback become irrelevant after Minister Ong’s “rebuttal”? Will these public servants be marked?
After witnessing an MP getting whacked by a minister in Parliament for highlighting an obvious issue, it only serves to confirm the public service only wants ‘Yes sir’ men or women.
Public servants who don’t fear speaking up will affect their appraisal and promotion or being labelled as troublemakers, keechiu.
Hmm … no show of hands.
The prevalent ‘Yes sir’ culture in the public service since 5 decades ago cannot change simply because Ong claims there are now systems in place. Or because of Ong’s efforts.
By denying the reality on the ground, Minister Ong will only perpetuate the problem.