For Singapore to thrive in the next 50 years, public servants need to have three traits in their DNA, Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
One is a heart to understand the fears, concerns and aspirations of Singaporeans. Emphasising that the public service exists to serve the country and Singaporeans, he encouraged public servants to walk the ground and lead by example.
Two, strive to constantly do better, but with a slight "tweak".
"It is no longer about doing more, doing more with less or doing things more effectively with less.
"In the next leg, it is about doing better with our people, not just for our people," said Mr Chan, who is also Trade and Industry Minister.
The point reiterates Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat's earlier pledge to partner Singaporeans in building the Republic's future.
Three, spend time and effort to pre-empt tomorrow's challenges, and not just be happy to do bet-ter today.
Mr Chan was addressing 400 public servants and heads of public agencies at the Public Sector Transformation Awards event at Gardens by the Bay. About 80 awards were given to individuals and agencies to recognise excellence in fields such as citizen engagement, innovation and digitalisation. It is a highlight of the annual Public Service Week, which runs until tomorrow.
Likening the public service in some parts of the world to firefighters, Mr Chan said they tended to put out the flames only after the fire had started. "In Singapore, we want to make sure we are there to prevent the fire from starting."
He also said the biggest challenge for Singapore in the next 10 years will be leadership and relevance.
Leadership needs to prevail at every level of society. "It is our job to activate not just the talent in our (public) service, but to catalyse the entire nation to come along on this journey," he said.
He also said that Singapore need not fear challenges and external pressure for it to take sides in a more fragmented world, so long as it remains relevant.
"We will create the relevance for others to want to engage us as valued and worthy partners," he said, noting that the gardens and bay where they stood is "a testimony to our ability to dream big... and to the kind of environment we want to leave behind for our children".
He urged the officers to imagine what more they could leave behind for future generations.
"The power of the Singapore civil service is in catalysing the energies of Singaporeans living on this island. If we can do that, I am sure we will move towards SG100 with greater pride and confidence."