Public service needs the best to navigate in complex world

I share the same misgivings as Mr Leonard Loo Kok Swee regarding some of the weaknesses of Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarship candidates ("Creative leaders necessary to push boundaries further"; Oct 16).

I am curious to know whether the qualities and characteristics of PSC scholarship applicants have changed over the years.

I wonder how recent applicants stack up against those from earlier times, who became outstanding public servants and policymakers.

In Singapore's earlier years, there were fewer scholarship options, and a PSC scholarship was a highly sought-after ticket to an overseas education. Now, there is a plethora of scholarships available - on top of the financial support offered by parents - many of which come with no strings attached.

Anecdotally, it appears that instead of applicants chasing scholarships, it is more the other way around now, with top students being courted with multiple scholarship offers.

Are today's PSC scholarship holders still the cream of the crop? Or are top students looking elsewhere for scholarship options?

We need innovative people who can think out of the box in public service to help Singapore navigate an increasingly complex world.

What is being done to attract more such desirable candidates to take up PSC scholarships?

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 29, 2015, with the headline 'Public service needs the best to navigate in complex world'. Print Edition | Subscribe