More Government is not always better Government, and greater social spending does not automatically mean better results, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday.
The United States, for instance, spends 18 per cent of GDP on healthcare, which is four times more than Singapore's, but has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality rates.
PM Lee also cited how the European model of welfare, with governments making up half or more of the economy, is in "serious trouble".
So even as Singapore strengthens social safety nets, the ultimate test of success is not how much the Government does or spends, but the programmes' outcomes, he said at a dinner to mark St Andrew's Mission Hospital (SAMH)'s centenary.
Everyone, from voluntary welfare organisations to community groups and the Government, must understand the Singapore context and adapt their programmes, said PM Lee even as he paid tribute to the community groups' good work.
Community partners like SAMH and the Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS) play important roles in complementing government efforts to help the less fortunate, he added.
Their strength: the warmth and personal touch which can never be replaced by government schemes, however well thought-out they are. Such groups can use personal and community ties to reach out to the needy and can meet the requirements of individuals and families better than national programmes, he said.
The charity gala dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel raised close to $1 million for the SAMH and SACS' charity work, including a new nursing home providing long-term psychiatric care.