No sign of defensive mindset in civil servants

Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng speculated that those in charge of dispensing public services "come up with regulations with an implicit deterrence against abuse" (Formulate policies with appreciation, not abuse, in mind; Aug 28).

I presume that he must be thinking the same of our civil servants.

I was a civil servant for 17 years, and nothing can be further from the truth.

Civil servants do not serve people with a defensive mindset, and neither I nor my former colleagues felt we were victims abused by the people.

Indeed, I have come across some caring and professional civil servants. For example, recently, three officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority responded to my electronic visa application and subsequent appeal within one working day, answering my queries with grace, details and speed.

In another instance, an officer from the Ministry of Manpower answered my questions within one working day. He even counselled me on my business plan, although he could have chosen not to as this was clearly not part of his duties.

It is thus not right to come up with speculations and theories about the professional practices on the ground from inside an ivory tower.

As an intellectual, one must walk the ground, at the very least, and gather objective evidence of the facts and not shoot from the hip.

Cheang Peng Wah