Voices Of Youth

What happened to Singapore's efficiency?

People crossing a road in Singapore's busy Central Business District during lunchtime.
People crossing a road in Singapore's busy Central Business District during lunchtime.PHOTO: ST FILE

Political scientist Samuel Huntington expressed in 1995 that "the honesty and efficiency that Senior Minister Lee has brought to Singapore are likely to follow him to his grave".

Are we finally seeing this come to fruition only four years after the death of Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew?

As Singapore is a hub for trade and investments from multinational corporations, efficiency is an integral part of our economy.

Yet it seems that time and time again, Singapore has fallen short in this regard, be it breakdowns in our MRT or delays in national service and the healthcare sector, despite attempts by the Government to reduce inefficiency.

Despite the multitude of websites through which to book an appointment in advance, there are still long waiting times at polyclinics.

In his 2010 National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of "a sense of purpose and efficiency because then the NSmen can feel that I am going there, I am achieving something, I have done it, I am off, no slacking around, no standing around and waiting", which is "what all government departments must learn to do".

But this is in stark contrast to reality, which sees many full-time national servicemen and pre-enlistees held up during the medical review process as they wait for their Letter of Identity (LOI) to be posted to them or faxed over to the hospital or clinic.

I have found myself stuck in a hospital for half a day or more waiting for my LOI to arrive, despite making calls in advance and on the day itself.

With such inefficiency happening even within government bodies, how then can we stand tall and call ourselves efficient?

Is Singapore living up to Professor Huntington's predictions with the death of our efficiency?

Caleb Tan Jie Ming, 18

JC 2 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2019, with the headline 'What happened to S'pore's efficiency?'. Print Edition | Subscribe