Singapore Sets Example In Public Service
David Ma, who worked in Singapore’s
Civil Service for more than 30 years,
said the Singaporean government
operates on the C.A.R.E. system,
meaning public servants are trained
in the areas of courtesy, accessibility, responsiveness and effectiveness.
Singapore and Cambodia have their drastic differences, but according to David Ma, an instructor at Singapore’s Civil Service College who worked in the country’s Civil Service for more than 30 years, the two countries have a lot they can learn from each other in terms of public service.
"What works in Singapore might not work here and what works here might not work in Singapore, but it’s important for us to share our experiences," he told UC students in his presentation "Serving the Public - A Singapore Experience," sponsored by the Asia Development Bank.
Known for the efficiency with which it's government conducts its daily affairs, Singapore has devised and executed a public service campaign that has attracted the attention of countries worldwide. According to Ma, this notoriety stems from the interest the Singaporean government takes in meeting the needs of its society and the framework for service delivery, aptly named CARE, which it has adopted.
Public servants, or government officials, are trained in the areas of "Courtesy," "Accessibility," "Responsiveness" and "Effectiveness," preparing them so they have the capacity to do their jobs and exceed the expectations of the public, he said.
"We have no natural resources, so we must use knowledge and innovation to survive," he said. "We pay much attention to creativity."
Singapore has set the mold in many areas of society. Ma showed students, for instance, how the government is transforming into an e-government so that they are more accessible to the public, offering one-stop services such as post offices that also serve as banks. He also explained the government's strategy to eliminate red tape, noting its policy of officials helping any customer find the appropriate office to address their concerns, even if it isn't their own.
Ma also explained how the government and private sector work together to meet society's needs. In areas such as transportation, he said, businesses have taken control to more efficiently serve the public with the government only needing to offer support in terms of providing infrastructure. However, the government maintains control in other areas where the private sector doesn't meet critical standards. For example, the government continues to run television media so that members of the country's four language groupings receive equal access to information.
The UC students who attended the presentation seemed inspired by Ma's insights and eager to continue to improve and
With a lack of natural resources, Singapore
relies on creativity and innovation to compete
globally, Ma said, and the private and public
sectors work together to meet society’s needs.
develop the public service sector in Cambodia.
Singapore's effort to "cut the red tape" and make government offices more accessible impressed Lim Ainay, a second-year Tourism and Hotel Hospitality student.
"Sometimes it's difficult to find the exact place to go if you need information," she said. "If the government could figure out a way to shorten the process to make it easier, people would like to meet with the government."
Chhea Kuntheara, a second-year Finance and Banking student, also looked at Singapore's high level of service as something for Cambodia to aspire to.
"Cambodia's services are still low, as we are a developing country," he said.
Ma urged the students to remain patient during Cambodia's development.
"As a citizen, you have the right to demand the best from the government," Ma assured the students. "But from the perspective of the government, the government faces a lot of constraints. It takes time."
The presentation took place March 12, 2009, in the UC Conference Center. Gina Lopez, Associate Dean in the College of Management, arranged for Ma's presentation as part of an on-going ADB Lecture Series.