Don’t try to second guess the Minister because your objective input matters greatly: Lawrence Wong to public officers

sgmatters.com dont try to second guess the minister because your objective input matters greatly lawrence wong to public officers dont try to second guess the minister because your objective input mat

At the 2022 Annual Public Service Leadership Ceremony, DPM Lawrence Wong tells public officers not to second guess the Minister or try to propose something that they think the Government will find politically convenient to do.

This is because the Government values their candid and forthright inputs. Their professional inputs matter greatly, the minister said. They are a vital part of government’s decision-making process even if the final decision taken by the government may not always accord with their recommendations, DPM Lawrence Wong said. 

Inputs are vital parts to decision-making process

We value greatly the professional inputs and objectivity of our officers in the Public Service. So do not try to second guess (anticipate) the Minister or propose what you think we will find politically convenient,

DPM Wong said.

Instead, continue to be candid and forthright in sharing your assessments and views, based on your best professional judgment,

he added.
sgmatters.com public officers must be candid and forthright in their inputs not second guess the minister lawrence wong public officers must be candid and forthright in their inputs not second guess t

Pandemic proves the value of public officers

Nowhere is this candid input so essential than demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic when there were so many seemingly intractable challenges.

As a co-lead of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF), I saw first-hand how essential this close partnership was,

DPM Wong said. 

The MTF operated with incomplete information and had to react to a highly fluid and constantly changing situation.

The Public Service, represented by the Home-front Crisis Executive Group (or HCEG), led by Permanent Secretary Mr Pang Kin Keong provided their best professional assessment of the evolving situation and the possible responses.

The team presented their assessments and views objectively, without fear or favour. Without trying to second guess (anticipate) what we wanted.

And this in turn, gave the MTF the confidence to weigh the various options, to figure out what measures were politically wearable, and to make a final judgment on the best way forward.

DPM Lawrence Wong

Political contestation is here to stay

DPM Wong said that the PAP does not assume that they have the right to leadership. Just because the PAP has governed Singapore since independence, it does not mean that it will always do so. Therefore, the PAP will work even harder to win the confidence and trust of Singaporeans in order to secure the mandate to govern, and to prove that they can govern well, DPM Wong said.

Political contestation is here to stay and will likely become more intense over time. The political leadership in the PAP will have to manage the politics.

DPM Wong said, “So whenever we consider policies, we will have to make a judgement as political leaders on how far to go, what changes to make, taking into account these broader considerations”.

But he gave assurance that “decisions by the political leadership will always be driven by a full commitment to do what is right for Singapore and Singaporeans”.

"We will never compromise on our key principles and values. We will not allow populist politics, race politics, or money politics to take root in Singapore. And that means we will continue to be upfront with Singaporeans about issues which may not be so popular but need to be discussed and dealt with. We will continue to tackle problems head-on instead of taking the expedient way, kicking them down the road, or allowing them to fester and grow."

DPM Lawrence Wong

The PAP Government will try their best to understand the needs and concerns of Singaporeans, and help build consensus especially on difficult issues.

DPM Wong stressed the need to enable people to better understand the trade-offs of the increasingly complex issues we face and learn how to seek mutual accommodation and compromise.

Compromise in Singapore must never become a bad word. Because if we do not learn how to compromise, if every group insists on maximum entitlements for themselves, then our society can only become more and more divided. So we must strive to build stronger partnerships with community organisations, businesses, and unions, so that we can pull together to help address our social and economic challenges as one people.

DPM Lawrence Wong

A higher calling and purpose

DPM Lawrence Wong said the close partnership between the Political Leadership in the PAP Government and the Public Service is grounded on mutual respect and trust, based on ‘a shared understanding that we are all here not just to do a job, but to serve a higher calling and purpose – and that is to build a better Singapore together’.

As the PAP Government navigate the highly volatile and uncertain world ahead, this close partnership between the political leadership and the Public Service will become all the more important, DPM Wong said. 

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