A Vicious Cycle?

Even though I have only been in the public service for a short time, I have come to notice a very interesting cycle.

Singapore is a small country with limited natural resources. The only thing we can boast is our geographical location which has made it a natural transportation hub. To become economically progressive, the government has thus stressed on development of the human capital, productivity, efficiency and deliverance of consistently high quality.

As such our nation has been conditioned to not rest on its laurels, that we need to become the best that we can be because if we think that it is enough, we will fail to keep up with other countries in drawing foreign investment, the engine that drives our economy.

It is no surprise then that Singaporeans are generally dissatisfied and discontented people. Is it because our leaders keep telling us that we need to do better? In the same way, have we also become equally critical of our government policies – that it is never good enough?

I note with much amusement at the recent policy to reward Singaporeans who have gone through the two-year compulsory National Service. To be suddenly entitled up to $10,500 should be great news but instead has drawn much criticism along the lines that no amount of ‘compensation’ is enough for the 2 years our male counterparts have to sacrifice. One would think that we would probably have been happier if the government had not offered this financial stimulus.

On the receiving end of all these complaints are the public servants. After many many years of dealing with both the people who complain and the bosses who demand a report of why these people complain, public sector employees have developed a certain fear and prefer very much to stay within their comfort zones. Hence I cannot be too critical of the decisions made by my bosses, they are only human.

So in staying within what is safe, we essentially wait for the private sector to explore new grounds before employing those tried and tested methods within our organisation. Who can blame us for not daring to be innovative? As someone who is used to taking calculated risks, this environment is extremely stifling and I wonder if I should begin to blame the ones up there for making life so difficult for us in the first place.

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