One Thing We’ve Learnt Being in the Public Service

In October 2022, we invited public officers to share one important lesson they have learnt from being in the Public Service.

one thing we've learnt being in the public service

Winning Entry

Clifford Tan, Central Narcotics Bureau:

Personally, being in public service is like opening a bottle of jellybeans. I'm blessed to have served with the Singapore Police Force for nearly four years and been with the Central Narcotics Bureau for the past two years.

There are "sweet" moments when we draw the flavour of choice, such as when members of the public thank us for our effort in apprehending their loved ones who committed crimes. These make us feel appreciated in our daily endeavours.

There are also times when we draw slightly "unpleasant" flavours like liquorice – when we face long hours at work, trying our best to crack a case, and even having to forgo family time with loved ones. Overall, to be in the Public Service is a privilege and a unique experience I would not trade for anything else in the world.

Thank you for your entry, Clifford. You win $100 worth of Awfully Chocolate vouchers so you can satisfy your sweet tooth and sweet feelings for the Public Service.

Chen Chunyan, Health Promotion Board:

One thing I have learnt about working in the Public Service is "FUN":

  • Fair: Be fair in treating everyone. Do your work with pride.
  • Uphold integrity: As public officers, we must always uphold our integrity when serving the public.
  • New: Think of new ways of working, keep up with new challenges and keep learning.

Inject FUN at work to keep stress at bay.

Sometimes you need the right motivation to get work done

Jeannette Ng, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency:

I’ve learnt that sometimes you need the right motivation to drag your body to the office and get work done. For me, motivation comes in the form of the Newton MRT cat, Whiskers. He is a good boy and I greet him every morning on the way to work. I also see him in the evening, and I would like to think his meows are complimenting the work I've done for the day.

While I don't quite understand cat, I draw affirmation from his meows. He is a constant staple and the main reason I don't dread going to the office.

If I win, please allow me to post a photo of him together with the entry; he is a good boy and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

Charis Tan, Ministry of Health:

Things move at the speed of trust.

The quicker we are to be vulnerable and admit when we don't know, acknowledge where mistakes have been made, and cultivate an authentic relationship to the work we do, the faster we gain clarity on issues.

And the more generous we are with our time and energy when it comes to things of meaning and purpose, even when they do not translate into immediate visibility or gains, the more our organisations can perform efficiently and effectively when it counts most.

Pang Jun Xiang, Monetary Authority of Singapore:

After being in Service for almost three years now, I have heard people comment that things move much slower than their liking in the Public Service – for instance, when it comes to effecting public policy changes.

I would like to offer a different perspective: Policymaking to me is a challenging undertaking that needs extensive stakeholder engagement and management. There is also much nuancing involved to ensure the policies function as intended, while leaving room for flexibility, yet not abuse. It is as much an art as it is a science, and often we learn in hindsight what works and what doesn't.

I think patience is crucial when it comes to such matters. Policymaking is by necessity an iterative process, and rarely do we get it right the first time.

Taking it slow(er) may not mean that we don't care but, rather, that we want to make measured and thorough policy decisions. These decisions may carry more impact than we know for the welfare of Singaporeans in our generation, and also the generations to come.

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Pick a Challenge article and reimagine it as a video for Tiktok or Instagram Reels


Q: Pick a Challenge article and reimagine it as a video for Tiktok or Instagram Reels.

Submit your entry here in the form of a vertical video (ideally in 1080 by 1920 pixels and under 60 seconds).

The most creative entry will receive a prize worth $100. All other entries published will win vouchers worth $30 each.

All entries should reach us by Jan 17, 2023.

    Dec 8, 2022
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