Public servants must challenge perspectives, learn to apply solutions to Singapore context: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE – Those in the public service must continuously challenge their own perspectives and learn to apply solutions to various problems in the Singapore context, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Wednesday (July 22).

“(We must) look at how other people do things, see what we can learn from them – as in what to do, but also sometimes what not to do – so that we can apply the solutions in context for our country,” he said.

Diversity is “not just based on the usual race, language, religion perspective”, but it also involves looking at different ways of approaching and solving problems – and these are important aspects to consider in the public service, he added.

Mr Chan was speaking to the media after a virtual dialogue session with Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarship recipients on Wednesday, where they discussed national challenges such as the role of the public service in a post-Covid-19 era.

Twenty-three recipients are pursuing their studies this year. Due to the pandemic, there was no physical award ceremony.

The Public Service Division said that henceforth, only PSC scholarship recipients who are pursuing their studies in the current year will be included in its announcement.

Those who have decided to proceed with their studies in subsequent years, such as male students doing their national service, will be included in the relevant year’s reports.

Mr Chan, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, said that during the dialogue, a number of this year’s scholarship recipients had voiced concerns about whether Covid-19 would disrupt their studies and career plans.

These worries are valid, and shared by many Singaporeans of their age, Mr Chan noted.

PSC chairman Lee Tzu Yang addressed these concerns in an open letter to the scholarship recipients on Wednesday.

Mr Lee said that while travel and immersion in foreign cultures have currently been made difficult by the closure of borders and restrictions on travel, there are other ways they can diversify their learning experiences.

He said: “Community service is possible wherever you are. By building relationships with people different from you, across nationalities, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, you can better understand how others experience and handle issues. A different lens gives a different view.”

Mr Chan said that one important message for the scholarship recipients is that, while pursuing their studies overseas or locally, they should “consciously and continuously look out for new opportunities to enrich their perspectives”.

This is so that when circumstances change and new problems arise, they will have new ideas on how to apply solutions in context to the challenges facing Singapore and Singaporeans.

The minister added: “We are all united in one goal. And that is for Singapore to defy the odds of history to continue as an independent country that will not only survive, but to thrive.

“And for this, we must make sure that we continuously have our own people coming forward to serve… I hope that as (the scholarship recipients) go forth to the different universities, different areas of studies, they will also bring home new networks and knowledge to enrich Singapore.”

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