The Straits Times says

Thinking ahead to stay ahead

Several government agencies have been proactive in dealing with possible problems. National water agency PUB has made sandbags available on request to businesses and residents in flood-prone areas, while spelling out steps it is taking to deal with the perennial problem when heavy monsoon rains hit this island. The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will prioritise their inspections to focus on licensees that provide catering services and premises with catering operations, an especial concern during this festive season. Then there are also entities like the Changi Airport Group, which geared up to deal with the higher number of flights, passengers and bags at the airport during the peak holiday period, and provided tips on how to cope. These agencies have used recent events - flooding and food-poisoning, for example - to protect Singaporeans.

While their areas of concern are unrelated, the way in which they have chosen to respond reiterates the pre-emptive spirit in which official and related agencies must act to uphold public administration standards. Administration is an exercise in damage limitation and control. Although the two aspects overlap, limitation involves minimising the consequences of untoward events that have occurred. Recent examples are the heavy downpours which caused flash floods in parts of Choa Chu Kang, Bukit Batok and Geylang, and food poisoning outbreaks that resulted in one death and affected about 400 people. They occurred in spite of the regulatory infrastructure in place to prevent them. Follow-up actions were proper, but the damage had been done.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2018, with the headline 'Thinking ahead to stay ahead'. Print Edition | Subscribe