Opening Address by Mr Teo Chee Hean at the Excellence in Public Service Awards Ceremony
AT THE EXCELLENCE IN PUBLIC SERVICE AWARDS CEREMONY
ON FRIDAY, 20 MAY 2016
FLOWER FIELD HALL, GARDENS BY THE BAY
*Partnering Closely, Widely and Deeply – to Create Our Future Together*
Head, Civil Service,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon to all of you.
1. Every year, we come together to present the Excellence in Public Service Awards to recognise the good work of our agencies, officers and fellow citizens who have contributed to improving the lives of our fellow Singaporeans. We also renew our commitment to public service, and celebrate the successes and achievements that we have made together.
Creating our Future through Partnership
2. We now face new challenges, as Singapore enters a new phase of nation building. Terrorism remains a security threat, and cyber security is a growing concern. We have to transform our economy to keep up with global and regional developments, and seize new opportunities to create jobs of the future for Singaporeans. We are looking to provide opportunities for mass continuing education so that Singaporeans deepen their skills and remain employable throughout life. We will continue to support Singaporeans to form and nurture strong families, and help our growing number of seniors live healthy and active lives.
3. To make Singapore even better in the future, the Public Service will have to build stronger partnerships. Partnerships across agencies will help public officers to work together to develop better policies and deliver better services. Partnerships also provide opportunities for Singaporeans to contribute their knowledge, skills and wisdom, and develop solutions together with the Government, our agencies and public officers. This strengthens Singaporeans’ stake in nation-building, and helps to build a more cohesive and resilient society.
4. This afternoon, I will talk about three aspects of positive and constructive Public Service partnerships. First, partnering closely within the Public Service, to deliver better policies, services and programmes. Second, partnering widely, reaching out to more Singaporeans. And third, partnering deeply to achieve enduring outcomes.
5. First, partnering closely within the Public Service, to deliver better policies, services and programmes.
6. We have set up new organisational structures, such as the Municipal Services Office, to improve the Government’s coordination and delivery of municipal services. The MyInfo platform launched earlier this month allows Singaporeans to pre-fill online forms of participating Government e-Services from personal data which has already been provided previously by them to the Government. This will help users save time, avoid mistakes, and eventually do away with the need for physical documents as verification to complete transactions.
7. Close inter-agency partnership also made it easier for Singaporeans to receive means-tested household-based subsidies for MediShield Life premiums. In the past, to apply for subsidies, Singaporeans would have needed to fill up forms providing information on their household members, and produce income documents or give consent for the Government to access their income information.
8. For MediShield Life, MOH worked with other government agencies such as ICA, HDB, MOM, CPF Board, IRAS and others to pool together existing relevant data which households had already provided. Singaporeans only had to verify their household information, either online, through the phone or at service counters. MOH was then able to assess and provide the appropriate subsidies for each household member. Today, we will recognise this multiple-agency partnership with a Best Practice Award in Inter-Agency Collaboration. I hope this and other positive examples will inspire our public officers to partner colleagues from other public agencies more closely to provide convenient, seamless and speedy service for Singaporeans.
9. Second, partnering widely, reaching out to more fellow Singaporeans. The Public Service should continue to reach out to, hear from, and work with different segments of the population, through different channels.
10. For example, the Home Team is partnering neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces and community groups through the SG Secure movement, to help Singaporeans be better prepared to respond to terror threats, and stay united in peacetime and in crisis. NParks and PUB have the Community in Bloom and Friends of Water programmes, where Singaporeans help look after our greenery and our water resources. To strengthen support for persons with disabilities, MSF is working with stakeholders, including people with disabilities and caregivers, to develop the third Enabling Masterplan.
11. We are also using more channels to engage and reach out to our citizens. In the last few years, Singaporeans from different backgrounds have come together to hear from one another and shape our collective future, starting with Our Singapore Conversation, and now continuing through SGfuture engagements. Many of our agencies are also reaching out to more Singaporeans online and through social media. For example, MOH and MOE are encouraging parents and caregivers to contribute ideas on how to enhance health outcomes among our young, not just through focus groups but also through an online consultation platform. SCDF’s social media team was featured in the Straits Times in February this year, for its fun, creative yet informative posts on its Facebook page.
12. One good example of partnering widely is Best Practice Award winner, URA’s efforts to engage Singaporeans on the future plans for the Rail Corridor. Since 2011, URA has used a variety of platforms such as site visits, exhibitions, competitions, and dialogues to gather ideas and feedback from different segments, including cycling, nature, conservation, and heritage groups. Architects and designers were then invited to submit proposals which incorporated these ideas, and from November last year to April this year, URA invited Singaporeans to give another round of feedback to refine these design proposals. This included a roving exhibition and community workshops at various Community Clubs located along the Rail Corridor to ensure that residents living nearby could share their views. URA will continue to engage widely, so that the Rail Corridor will be a community space owned by all Singaporeans, and one that we are all proud of. I encourage public officers to reflect on how you, how all of us, can build such wide partnerships with the community in your own areas of work.
13. Third, partnering deeply to achieve enduring outcomes. Deep partnership goes beyond consultation, dialogues and giving ideas. In a deep partnership, all parties - government, community and individuals - contribute to and have a stake in the outcomes. All parties are heavily involved in developing, refining and implementing solutions and this requires deep commitment, sustained over time.
14. One good illustration is how Singapore River One (SRO for short), a private sector precinct association, developed a deep partnership with public agencies to bring about the first regular weekend car-free zone at Circular Road. SRO put up the initial proposal for the car-free zone in 2013 to make Circular Road more lively and vibrant, and increase foot traffic to the area. Taking this further, the association contributed its expertise and worked with agencies to make the idea work. Today, SRO helps to ensure that business owners in the area adhere to regulatory guidelines and requirements, and acts as “eyes and ears” on the ground to resolve any potential issues early. For its sustained efforts, SRO is receiving a Best Partner Award today. We hope to see more of such deep partnerships between the Public Service and stakeholders.
15. South-East Community Development Council has also formed a deep partnership with the Eastern Health Alliance, the Regional Health System for the East comprising public and community healthcare organisations, to provide more integrated healthcare and social support for elderly residents in the East. Working together, they identify the care needs of residents and link them with relevant community organisations. They also recruit, train and match volunteers. The deep partnership between the two organisations helps to meet the needs of the residents in a holistic and sustainable way.
16. I am also heartened to see individual Singaporeans partnering deeply with the Government to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.
17. One of our PS21 Star Customer award winners this year is Mr William Teng. Mr Teng is the Vice-Chairman of the Canberra Community Emergency and Engagement Committee. As advocates of emergency preparedness, Mr Teng and his C2E members conduct house visits to educate residents on fire safety and first aid, such as CPR and how to use an AED. He also teaches new citizens and foreign workers life-saving skills, and helps them integrate into the community. We hope that more Singaporeans will step forward, partner the Government deeply and do their part for the community to make Singapore a better home for all of us.
18. In concluding, I wish to congratulate to all our award winners today. Thank you for your hard work, passion and for your commitment.
19. As we set our sights on SG100, I encourage all public officers to reflect on and strengthen the partnerships you have with your colleagues across the Public Service, and with Singaporeans. Be open to new ideas, think out of the box, and be prepared to try new ways of doing things. Constantly look for opportunities to strengthen existing partnerships, and build new and constructive ones. Develop creative ideas. Look for partnerships both within the Public Service, beyond the Public Service and work together on these new ideas to make Singapore better.
20. With public officers and Singaporeans partnering closely, widely and deeply, we can create a better and brighter future for all of us. Congratulations. Thank you very much for your hard work.