Public service must pick up new skill sets to transform itself: Chan Chun Sing

Public service must pick up new skill sets to transform itself: Chan Chun Sing

The Moments of Life initiative, which bundles services and information for citizens when they need it, represents a "fundamental shift" in the public service's mindset, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Jul 4). Wendy Wong reports. 

SINGAPORE: The Moments of Life initiative, which bundles services and information for citizens when they need it, represents a "fundamental shift" in the public service's mindset, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Jul 4).

The initiative, which was first announced last year as one of five Smart Nation strategic national projects, was one of the examples cited by Mr Chan on how the public service has continuously sought to improve its services to citizens.

"All these projects show a gradual but definite shift in the public service - that today, increasingly so, as we organise ourselves, our mindset is not how we serve our organisational needs, but how we serve the people," Mr Chan said during the Public Sector Transformation Awards ceremony.

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Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing gives the opening address at the Public Sector Transformation Awards ceremony. (Photo: Facebook/Chan Chun Sing)

"The people are at the centre of all that we do. This is the mindset that encourages me a lot when I see the public service in action because it tells us that we have the correct people with the correct values.”

ADOPTING NEW SKILL SETS

Addressing a crowd of about 900 attendees, including public service officers, Mr Chan highlighted the importance of continuously adopting new skill sets. These include building digital capabilities, designing policies and services from the people’s perspective, and coming up with whole-of-Government solutions. 

Mr Chan said new programmes to help upgrade the digital literacy of public servants will be rolled out over time.

"Increasingly, the types of problems we face will be inter-disciplinary and inter-agency," said Mr Chan, who cited the example of the Housing and Development Board (HDB). "Today, when HDB designs towns, it is not just designing flats and precincts for housing needs. HDB also looks at it from a social perspective – how do we design our towns to enable and enhance interaction and mixing? How do we design our estates such that today’s need for privacy do not lead to social isolation when people grow old?”

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Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing at the Public Sector Transformation Awards ceremony. (Photo: Facebook/Chan Chun Sing)

Mr Chan also emphasised the importance of collaboration both within and across agencies, as well as with society: "Collaboration starts from the basic premise that we have the humility to admit and accept that we can’t do it alone, and we do not always have the best ideas within our agencies.”

"It may sound daunting that we have all these new things to do, but we do not need to be afraid," said Mr Chan. "If we can do these things progressively, module by module, and expose our officers to these new skills, I’m quite confident that we will continue to remain at the forefront.”

"We have reached a high level and are respected throughout the world for many of the things we do, but we are never satisfied just because of where we are. We know that many other cities are trying to copy what we do, and perhaps even overtake us. And this is why we can never be complacent about being the best.”

George Lim operations manager at CHIJ Kellock
Mr George Lim redesigned the trolley to include an extra wheel and foot pedal - serving as a lever - to help transport tables and chairs with less strain, with his team “very happy” using it. (Photo: Wendy Wong)

During the ceremony, 400 awards were given out to individuals and teams in recognition of their excellent service and innovation. One of them was Mr George Lim, operations manager at CHIJ Kellock, who was honoured for his innovations at his workplace. 

The 56-year-old had redesigned a trolley used to move tables and chairs to include an extra wheel and foot pedal, for the benefit of his team of operations support officers - many of whom are aged between 60 and 80. 

"We saw a lot of staff moving tables and chairs using a simple trolley. And they have to literally manhandle the trolley itself – lifting it by muscle and pushing it from point A to B," said Mr Lim. 

"Each time they carry heavy tables and chairs – I’m talking about 40 to 50kg of weight. And every time they carry about 400-500 tables and chairs.

"At the end of an hour, they will be so tired (with) muscle back pain. This cannot carry on, so we had to think of something that can make it easy for them to transport all these equipment from point to point without injuring themselves," he said.

For his innovation, Mr Lim was awarded with a distinguished star service award, which recognises public officers with high standards of service excellence.

Source: CNA/ec

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