Mark of a true public service agency

The relatively little-known Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) should be commended for the new public policy initiative to minimise profiteering from authorised car workshops (Car repairs may be cheaper after lifting of warranty curbs; Dec 12).

The CCS is one of the smaller and sharper government agencies performing an incisive role in contributing directly to the everyday well-being of Singaporeans with little fuss or publicity for itself.

Such little beneficial moves with low publicity but high impact mark the strength and significance of true public service.

The process from policy formulation to implementation is never an easy one, and CCS officers would be required to be familiar with the industry and its workings, such as whether unfair or unhealthy competition exists, and possess the undying will to do good in the interest of the public.

Government officers who persist in enjoying the lofty view from their ivory towers, pontificate irrelevant ideologies and fight paper wars do their public agencies a great disservice.

I can think of some examples where a statutory board or government department designed policies that look good on paper but were either impractical or irrelevant. Worse still, some policies are either self-serving or for publicity-seeking purposes.

These poorly articulated policy practices reflect either the lack of competency of field officers or poor leadership with the wrong priorities.

Thankfully such cases have been few and far between, and even when they did occur, were swiftly and decisively thumped down by public opinion. Governments in the global age serve their political masters best when they learn to serve the people first.

Sunny Goh (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Mark of a true public service agency'. Print Edition | Subscribe