Opening Address by Mr Teo Chee Hean at the Excellence in Public Service Awards Ceremony 2013
MINISTER IN CHARGE OF THE CIVIL SERVICE
EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS CEREMONY
29 MAY 2013 ORCHARD HOTEL GRAND BALLROOM
Head of Civil Service
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good afternoon.
2. I am very happy to join all of you at this year’s Excellence in Public Service Awards Ceremony.
3. Each year, we celebrate the good work of public officers, public sector agencies, and fellow Singaporeans, who have contributed to improving the lives of other Singaporeans through public service.
Taking Pride in Serving the Public
4. Indeed, the single most important motivation for public officers must be that we derive satisfaction and happiness from the happiness and well-being of others – when we see that our work helps fellow Singaporeans’ lives get better.
5. School teachers who educate young Singaporeans. Enforcement officers who keep our streets safe, clean and orderly. Officers who develop and implement programmes that improve the lives of Singaporeans. The work that our public officers do may not always be visible, but what is important is that we have caring and committed public officers who think innovatively, continue to seek new ways to do their work better, and go out of their way to serve Singaporeans. Only then can public officers be proud of our Public Service.
Creating Better Outcomes through Strong Partnerships
6. The winners of the PS21 Star Service award exemplify the Public Service’s efforts to put people at the centre of all that we do. They have provided outstanding service to members of the public, and have gone the extra mile to show initiative, empathy and care. Through their words and actions, they have demonstrated a keen understanding of the needs of the people that they serve.
7. Senior Staff Nurse Ching Suiee Lan from the National Heart Centre is one such example. Suiee Lan leads a team which manages the recovery of patients who have undergone heart transplants or have mechanical heart devices to support their failing hearts. A responsive and knowledgeable healthcare professional, she helps guide patients on their road to recovery so that they can lead full and active lives.
8. Suiee Lan is a good listener who empathises with patients and their families, lightening their burden at a difficult time in their lives. One example was a young mother diagnosed with terminal heart failure and managed to regain confidence and strength, and even found meaningful work after Suiee Lan spent personal time comforting and encouraging her. There are many other patients who have been touched by Suiee Lan’s care, and continue to visit her in the ward many years after their recovery. It is truly gratifying to see the many public officers among us here today, who like Suiee Lan, have put Singaporeans at the heart of their service to others. And I would like to thank all of you very much.
9. But it takes two hands to clap. We also have Singaporeans who have made valuable contributions to the community by partnering with public agencies. Mdm Stella Cheok has worked together with Yishun South Neighbourhood Police Centre to help keep her neighbourhood safe. An active member of her Neighbourhood Watch Group, Stella organises community patrols with other volunteers, and keeps a look out for suspicious characters and activities. 3 arrests in relation to loanshark harassments have been made at the scene because Stella provided timely and accurate information to the Police, who responded swiftly to nab the culprits. This is a good example of how an effective partnership between public agencies and the community has been pivotal to successfully combating loansharking and harassment in our housing estates, giving a greater sense of security for all. I thank Stella and her fellow volunteers for their help in enhancing the security of Singapore.
10. Suiee Lan and Stella have shown how the Public Service and Singaporeans can work together to do more for Singapore and Singaporeans. The Public Service will continue to tap the diverse ideas and experiences of fellow Singaporeans, and form strong partnerships with them. By working together, we can make Singapore an even better home for all of us.
Striving for Excellence as One Public Service
11. We must also continue to be an excellent, trusted, and forward-looking Public Service. Over 100 agencies and departments are receiving the Public Service Awards and Best Practice Awards this year. This is an encouraging sign that the Public Service strives to constantly improve.
12. Beyond individual agencies and departments seeking to improve their performance, there is also much scope for agencies to work more closely together for better outcomes, especially where there are gaps in coordination. Let me share an example in the area of public cleanliness. Previously, the responsibility of removing litter in public places fell to the agency which owns the land on which the litter happened to be found. So, depending on where the litter was found, the owner agency would call its own individual cleaning contractor to rectify the problem. Not surprisingly, this arrangement caused some confusion as it was not always apparent to a member of the public who the land owner was. To address this issue, the National Environment Agency (NEA) took up the challenge, took up the responsibility, formed the Department of Public Cleanliness (DPC) to integrate and oversee the cleaning of all public areas such as roads, drains, and parks which used to come under different agencies. Today we have a single, Whole-of-Government agency to deal with cleanliness issues in public areas.
13. Besides raising cleaning standards, NEA also works closely with their service providers to enhance productivity in public cleaning. Recently, the Agency started a pilot project using GPS technology, sensor analytics and web-based cameras to remotely monitor the performance of mechanical sweepers deployed by their service providers. And this system, also known as the Cleaning Performance Monitoring System (CPMS), uses multiple sensors to alert officers whether the cleaning of roads is properly undertaken. The full implementation of CPMS is estimated to result in an 18 per cent reduction of manpower, or savings of about $1.1 million a year.
14. I understand that NEA is piloting further technological and productivity innovations to raise public cleanliness standards. I encourage other agencies to also step up to find new ways of delivering services, and to collaborate across organisational boundaries to serve our fellow Singaporeans better.
15. The work that public officers do is not always easy. In particular, our frontline staff sometimes encounter real difficulties when they try to provide quality service. It is thus important that all of us recognise the public officers who have done well, and encourage others to emulate them. I congratulate the 118 officers and 43 agencies who will be receiving awards in recognition of their service and achievements in Organisational Excellence today.
16. I also want to thank all public officers who serve the people of Singapore in your own ways, and all Singaporeans who helped our public officers to do their job better. Thank you for your commitment and hard work, in making a positive difference to the lives of Singaporeans. Always be guided by our values of Integrity, Service, and Excellence in our daily work, so that Singaporeans can lead better lives, feel more secure and have a brighter future.
17. I wish all of you a good evening ahead. Thank you.