Encourage civil servants to be entrepreneurial

The Public Service Division has announced that civil servants must declare additional trade or work that draws income, following news that a Singapore Armed Forces regular was fined for providing lifts and receiving payment from a ride-hailing company (Moonlighting or not? 'Social carpooling' still a grey area; Aug 31).

I understand the need for civil servants to declare additional income streams in order to avoid conflicts of interest while performing their official duties.

However, it may be time to demolish the attitude that discourages civil servants from pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities on their own time.

The civil service is the largest pool of human resource in the country.

Imagine the additional boost in innovation and energy for the economy from utilising the spare capacity of this pool of talent.

Starting businesses or availing oneself of income opportunities is generally frowned upon in the civil service and is thought to negatively affect the employee's promotion chances.

This deters our civil servants from taking entrepreneurial steps.

With the pace at which the world is changing, what our society needs is more entrepreneurs and fewer by-the-book civil servants.

Supporting our civil servants to tap entrepreneurial opportunities during their own time without jeopardising their official duties may lead to a little messiness.

But it would aid in the push towards transforming Singapore to meet the challenges of today's economy.

Denis Edward

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Encourage civil servants to be entrepreneurial'. Print Edition | Subscribe