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Review Elected Presidency and Public Service selection process: MP Denise Phua

How the Civil Service picks its leaders and how officers are recognised and rewarded were among some areas brought up by the Moulmein-Kallang GRC Member of Parliament in Parliament on Tuesday (May 27).

SINGAPORE: The Public Service needs to upgrade its operating system against the backdrop of a maturing political system, Member of Parliament Ms Denise Phua suggested on Tuesday (May 27) as she spoke at the debate on the President's address.

There needs to be a rethink on the way Civil Service leaders are selected and developed. This means reviewing the kinds of competencies needed for leadership in the public service: 21st-century competencies such as facilitation, coaxing the best out of partners, networking, and communicating in a digital age to digital-savvy citizens.

"Is there still a need for an elite Admin Service which primarily admits persons of a specific form of intelligence? Or should the Admin Service scheme be replaced by a more open and robust system to identify different talents and competencies for different types of jobs?  Is there a space for a Civil Service HR (human resource) system that is less exclusive and more porous so that those without the traditional pedigree might stand a chance of being in the leadership team?" Ms Phua said.

She also called for an update to the system in which officers are recognised and rewarded.

"There is rumbling on the ground by civil servants themselves, no less, on the quality of a recognition system that is based in part on how aggressive one's supervisor fights for one against other similarly enthused supervisors similarly pushing up their own staff," she said.

Lastly, the public service needs to redesign a more effective blueprint allowing it to proactively identify issues that matter on the ground, Ms Phua said. It should also consult and co-shape with citizens important policies and programmes that affect the lives of the people of Singapore, such as the CPF Minimum Sum Scheme or even the latest Pioneer Generation Package.

Ms Phua also made a repeated call to the Government to examine the relevancy of its political offices against today's new political environment.

Specifically, she asked the Government to re-examine the Elected Presidency scheme.

"I long for the day of a senior statesman who can represent our country as a head of state in the like of ex-Presidents Yusof Bin Ishak and Dr Benjamin Sheares; statesmen who need not be lugged through yet another political campaigning process that divides the country instead of healing and uniting the people of Singapore," Ms Phua stated.

"If the government of the day is elected by popular vote, the electorate has to live with its elected candidates and remove them at the next General Elections should there be better choices.

"As a foundation for more good years to come, we must re-examine the Elected Presidency Scheme."

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