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Civil servants can take part in dialogues with gag order lifted

No gag order for national conversation, but they can't talk about their work

Published on Oct 16, 2012 6:00 AM
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat (standing) listening to participants at a citizens' dialogue at the National Library last Saturday. Civil servants can talk about government policies, but not those they worked on.  -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

A gag order on some 76,000 civil servants has been lifted so that they can contribute to the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogues.

They can now talk about government policies publicly at these dialogues. Previously, they would have had to get official permission to do so. But civil servants still cannot talk about their current work or policies they worked on.

The new guidelines were announced in a circular that was sent to civil servants last week, just before the first citizens' dialogue kicked off.

In it, the Public Service Division (PSD) explained that the gag order was lifted "in the spirit of the OSC", so that civil servants can "engage in meaningful discussions on most government policies and share their feedback on how some policies can be improved".

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Background story

Although the gag order was lifted, civil servants have been reminded not to "make controversial comments" or "publicly lobby for a different policy position", as these would hurt the credibility of the civil service. "Public officers are collectively responsible for government policies," the circular said.