The PAP Civil Service


SAF Major-General Chan Chun Sing is expected to enter politics just in time for the GE. The PAP is supposed to pull him out of the hat but everyone seems tired of that trick and knows that the bunny comes from a false bottom in the top hat. In this case, the public is conditioned to know that the majority of PAP candidates come from the government and government-linked bodies. Since he just handed over to the new guy, Chan Chun Sing would be announced as a PAP candidate this weekend probably.

He will be another George Yeo and Teo Chee Hean, and more since he would be the highest ranked SAF officer to join the PAP if the speculation on his political career is correct. George Yeo left the military and joined the PAP for the 1988 GE while Teo Chee Hean jumped ship from the navy just in time for the 1992 by-election.

My first question is why the government is the main pool of PAP talent? One rational answer is that all things equal, the people who work in the government are attracted to service and altruism, more so that the person who enters the profit-centred private sector. Hence, the PAP was more successful in netting people from the military, the civil service etc. Then the other question is why the opposition does not seem to have attracted people from the civil service, with the slightly relevant example of National Solidarity Party’s catch of Reform Party’s defectors ex-admin scholars as the exception? Either the opposition were unsuccessful in their recruitment, or they did have not sufficient networks with the right people in the government.

Then the bombshell question is whether that means that the PAP has good networks in the government. This is a moot question to many as the government and PAP appear to be the same thing for most Singaporeans and the PAP themselves. This is because of Singapore’s political history, and general ignorance or indifference of how the civil service and political parties function in theory. The inconvenient truth is that the PAP has built a relationship with the movers and shakers in the civil service and these high level civil servants are co-opted with their high pay. Taken care by the PAP, they are presumably pro-PAP already and therefore keen to join the PAP as a result.

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3 responses

  1. hahaha

    If the boss of the ministry, who happens to be a PAP MP, do you say, “No boss, I cannot agree with you. I am joining the Workers Party”. How do you think you can continue to have a career based on meritocracy an impartiality?
    Plain truth is (even though it is implied), Civil Service are dogs of the PAP, they will never bite the hand that feed them.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    • chemgen

      Hi hahaha

      Civil service are stewards of Singapore current and also future, not the ruling party of the day. The sooner civil servants realise that, the more the PAP loses its hold on them. The problem is that most Singaporeans think that a proper civil service is a “nation-building” civil service ala a “nation-building” press.

      At the risk of generalising about biting the hand that feeds them, most top echelon civil servants are probably like Ngiam Tong Dow or Yoong Siew Wah. They were probably boot-licking Yes-men when they were in service but then turned their coats when they retire and become disgruntled.

      March 29, 2011 at 12:43 am

  2. rolloy

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the civil service have an Instructional Manual that forbids political activity? They r also bounded by the Official Secrets Act that prevents them fr commenting on political affairs? This is an auto restriction on what to do,say n fart!so unless the person is willing to resign n lose their benefits joining any oppo party or activities is career suicide

    March 30, 2011 at 5:46 pm

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