Letter of the week: Govt agencies yet to catch up to 4G leaders' vision

I am heartened to note that our 4G leaders have on numerous occasions expressed their desire to engage Singaporeans in policy formulation (4G leaders to offer S'poreans more say in shaping policy, Jan 21).

However, my recent encounters with the public sector make me feel that the government ministries and relevant agencies have a long way to go to support this new style of governance.

Let me cite two encounters to show that government officials at the working level still often blindly follow existing processes without really listening to the issues raised by ordinary Singaporeans.

I wrote to a particular minister and his senior minister of state in November last year to raise my concern about a policy that was implemented more than 20 years ago and urged them to review its applicability in today's context.

I received a reply from the ministry's quality manager within two days, saying the matter had been referred to a statutory board for a response. The statutory board took more than three weeks to finally reply to me.

Instead of trying to explain why the policy is still relevant today, it simply stated how the policy came about back then, with no attempt to demonstrate that this policy has been reviewed over time.

My second encounter concerned my experience in raising a municipal issue through the OneService application last month. The issue I raised concerned the design of a shelter beside an MRT station that was intended to provide shelter for users of the station during rainy weather.

Instead of recognising it as a design issue, the statutory board tasked to look into my feedback took it as an issue concerning rental bicycles parked indiscriminately under the shelter.

My OneService case was immediately "closed" after the statutory board replied, without seeking confirmation from me whether my concern had been addressed, or allowing me to provide further feedback to the perceived solution offered by the statutory board.

If the 4G leaders are indeed serious about allowing Singaporeans more say in shaping policy, the Government as a whole, from ministers to public-sector officers, will need to seriously learn to get to the heart of the issue raised by the people.

Luo Siao Ping

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