Monday, 7 October 2013

Trust is a many-splendoured thing

Trust will determine success of policy shifts: PM Lee

Speaking to 250 public service leaders on Monday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said public servants can help build trust with the citizenry by understanding realities on the ground, operating seamlessly across agencies and with one another, and upholding the national interest - ST FILE PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

As the Government makes strategic shifts in its policies, a major determinant of its success will be citizens' trust, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday.

Speaking to some 250 public service leaders at their annual planning session, he called on them to work together and keep Singaporeans at the centre of what they do, and uphold the highest standards of integrity.

He listed several ways that public servants can also help build trust with the citizenry - they have to understand realities on the ground, operate seamlessly across agencies and with one another, and uphold the national interest rather than get "captured" by special interest groups.

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Trust is a many-splendoured thing

There's trust in competence, trust in integrity and trust in benevolence. Some Singaporeans are going through a state of trust-in-transition. What will move people to trust or not trust the Government?

Trust enables citizens and the Government to work together to build a cohesive and adaptive society - one with good quality of life for all; where Singaporeans can call home.
So when we examine the issue of public trust in the Government, it is ultimately about citizen well-being, not the survival of a political party.

Trust affects how citizens think, feel and behave. It takes time to build, is easy to lose and once lost, is difficult to restore. Given how critical and complex the concept of trust is, research on trust perceptions may shed light on how and why the public trusts, or distrusts, the Government.

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A Singaporean's Open Letter That Went Viral: ‘The People No Longer Trust the Government’

Popular Southeast Asian novelist and Singapore-based writer Catherine Lim wrote anopen letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong bemoaning the decline of public trust in his government.

The letter became popular on the Internet and was also covered by mainstream media. It sparked a lively discussion about Singapore politics, and in particular the defamation suitfiled by the Prime Minister against a blogger early this month. The sudden popularity of the letter reflected the validity of the many issues raised by Catherine. It also affirmed the continuing and rising active involvement of Singapore netizens on socio-political issues.

First, Catherine noted that more and more people are daring to use graffiti, which carries strict punishments, including jail terms and caning under the Island country's vandalism act:

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Rebuilding trust in public service will take time, say observers

Trust is a many-splendoured thing

This is the title of a magnificant article by David Chan in the Straits Times on 28 September. This is no doubt for the edification of Singaporeans for the enhancement of their political discernment, and in particular to the disoriented PAP leadership under PM Lee Hsien Loong in coming to terms with their predicament in GE 2016. 

With due respect to the author David Chan, his treatise has been very carefully crafted with a view to admonishing the PAP that it is heading toward a political disaster in GE 2016. Only that being an invitee of the Straits Times to write, it would not be very civilised of him to be too explicit in his admonishment. But discerning Singaporeans reading the article will be left with no doubt of its oblique reference to the PAP. 

David Chan has identified three major dimensions of trust which affect how citizens think, feel and behave and which may shed light on how and why the public trusts or distrusts the Government. They are competence, integrity and benevolence. Trust in competence  is about people's confidence in the Government's ability to perform and solve problems. It involves the ability to address issues affecting quality of life and also effectiveness in managing crises. Issues of infrastructure such as public transport lagging behind population growth raise doubts relating to trust in competence.

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Respect & trust must be earned and not given, PM Lee

Wonder why PM is taking more aggressive stance on these issues against local citizens. First he said citizens should not rely on them to solve ALL problems and now he said citizens must trust him.

Either his patience is wearing a bit thin or he letting off some steam to fight back all those noises created by locals in recent years. The sooner he realizes that ALL these are grievances and not just noise the better.

He has formulated policies that touched the lives ALL citizens to the micro level and therefore, he should expect feedback from ALL levels. Moreover, local do not expect him to solve ALL problem but those at macro level as priority namely transport , housing, health care etc. Nobody is asking him for free lunch but to create a conducive environment to get to those lunches fair and square

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PM: Trust in public critical for success

Ok, I trust the government to keep the power generators and the its distribution working; the rubbish to cleared daily; the SCDF to respond to emergencies; to get my passport renewed; the police to chase down serious crimes...quite a long list. 

Ok, I don't trust the government playing politics trying to fix the opposition; the Population White Paper; Affordable healthcare; How Dinesh Raman died in prison; the public transport system; that there was a Marxist Conspiracy; that tuition is not necessary...quite a few things but not as long as the list of items I trust them to do.

The most egregious is not a laundry list of items and services I trust or not trust them to perform but how they measure up against our pledge. So I am watching to see how well and quickly they move left of centre politically.

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PM: SGs must trust that Govt understands their needs

Speaking at the Public Service Leadership Advance, a planning seminar for public sector leaders this morning (30 Sep), PM Lee said it is important that Singaporeans trust the government understands their needs and is committed to the people.

The public service can strengthen this trust by working together with Singaporeans as one, upholding integrity, he said.

PM Lee said, “Ultimately, integrity is not about systems and processes but values. The government must have a culture that doesn’t tolerate any wrongdoing or dishonesty and the public officers must have the right values – service, integrity, excellence – and each officer and the service as a whole must take pride in being clean, incorrupt.”

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Pinky has said that one of the tenets of successful policies is that citizens must have trust in the government. Before one takes his word at face value, the following are some issues which we need to examine before asking ourselves whether we can actually trust the PAP government. As Robert A. Heinlei once famously said, we should "Love [our] country, but never trust its government."

CPF/ Temasek Holdings/ National Reserves - As their various names and constitutions suggest, these establishments are national institutions and their actions can have a great impact on our country. In other words, your average ordinary Singaporean has a stake in it and they have the right to know what lies in both the balance sheet and the profit and loss statement since national monies are invested. By not giving full transparency and having occasional  surprises (“Reserves drawn on 55 times since 2002″), how can we trust the PAP government?

Population white paper - Many Singaporeans have expressed their discontent against this paper via various means, including direct feedback. Yet the PAP government still decided to invoke the party whip for this motion to be passed. Against our wishes, Singaporeans can only look in dismay as they are likely to fade into the minority in 2030 and invoke huge protests. Yet, sensing anger, various PAP ministers still gave us all sorts of conflicting views. Is this considered a successful policy based on trust for the government?

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PM Lee should admit untruths propagated by MSM are even harder to correct

Last week, the Straits Times reported that PM Lee said that untruths spread by social media is hard to correct. I agree. But what he left out is that untruths spread by mainstream media (MSM) is even harder to correct. That's because while it is natural for readers to question the source and authenticity of social media news, society takes it for granted that the MSM is always telling the truth.

'Untruths spread through social media hard to correct'

On the Internet, you put one untruth or mistake out, (it) spreads all over the space. How do you send the truth chasing after the untruth... and catch up with it? It's quite a problem, not just in Singapore but all over the world. We have to think how we're going to deal with these things.
- PM Lee
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Straight talk from Ngiam

The thing about being a member of establishment is that you can probably get away with hitting the G, even if you land a blow in the gut. Former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow is well-known for his blunt talk. He made several points about the Singapore “system’’, taking apart some of the assumptions that it has been built on in an interview excerpted in TODAY

You start thinking why he didn’t say so in the first place, when he was in a position to change things. Or perhaps, he had tried to put forward his point of view, and failed.

Here are some choice quotes from the man: Choice quote No. 1: “I don’t know whether Lee Kuan Yew will agree but it started going downhill when we started to raise ministers’ salaries, not even pegging them to the national salary but aligning them with the top 10

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Do you want to wait for the PAP to win back your trust before we expect them to produce results?

Well, at least that was the message we got out of PM Lee's comments. If one is to read it another way, it could also mean that he is again blaming the Singaporean for what the government cannot do and cannot achieve. It's our fault because we do not trust them, and because we do not trust them their "plans can never be realised".

Some of our kids are taking their PSLE exams as we speak and read. Some are going to take their GCE O level exams soon. Now, imagine your kids coming home after getting their results later in the year and telling you that they did not achieve what they had set out to achieve because you, the parents, did not have the basic trust in them to achieve their exam goals. This is what our PM is telling us. We, the parents, are at fault.

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