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Civil servants should engage S’poreans: Minister

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National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, a former top civil servant, advised up-and-coming public officers: Don't just do paperwork behind the desk but go out and engage stakeholders and Singaporeans.

The way the Government works nowadays is no longer just about developing policies for Singaporeans but is also "co-creating solutions together with them", he told more than 500 leaders and officers in the public sector yesterday.

The new approach requires public officers to arm themselves with new capabilities and skills, including learning how to negotiate differences and build consensus, he said.

This challenge means "more effort and time in getting your work done", he added.

"But this is crucial in enabling us to build stronger ties with Singaporeans, and in achieving better outcomes for all."

The journey to partner citizens in shaping Singapore's future has started, via national-level engagement exercises like Our Singapore Conversation, he noted, as he called on the officers to strengthen the partnerships with stakeholders.

Mr Wong was speaking at a dinner for officers appointed to the Public Service Leadership Programme.

SPECIALISTS

More than 880 have been on the programme, since its launch in 2013 to develop specialists in various fields, including infrastructure and the environment.

The officers will work with administrative service officers to lead the public service.

The need to bolster citizen engagement was also stressed by head of Civil Service Leo Yip in his address.

Mr Yip said the pilot run of a new initiative, Engagement Immersion for Leaders, was launched last month.

It involves officers working directly with citizens on the frontline and gathering ground feedback.

Mr Wong, in his speech, also said the Government must "double down" on its efforts to build a fair and inclusive society.

Singapore faces the challenges of a maturing economy, an ageing population and issues of social mobility and inequality.

He believes a market that functions well is still the best way to grow the economic pie in the long-term, to produce more jobs, better pay and higher living standards for all.

But the interests of workers and consumers must be safeguarded, and the Government cannot step back and let markets reign supreme, he added.

Well-structured regulations are needed and Mr Wong gave several examples, such as the property cooling measures and controlling the inflow of foreign workers.

Singapore Politics