Are public servants scared to speak up?

In Parliament yesterday (27 Feb), PAP MP Louis Ng said that public servants are scared to speak out against the status quo.

He said in Parliament that, “In the past year, I have reached out to public servants to better understand their concerns, the difficulties they face and their aspirations. Almost without fail, I will be asked two questions: The first is “Will I get into trouble if I speak up and share my thoughts with you?’”

This is not the first time that he has brought this subject up. In the 2017 Budget Debate, Ng said that, “There is no doubt that we have a very efficient and corrupt-free public service. My concern is that in the pursuit of efficiency, we have compromised a key value – compassion. In our pursuit to automate most things, we now have a system without a heart.”

And he is not the only PAP MP who has decided to make pokes at public servants. Lee Bee Wah has said this before, even commenting that civil servants will ‘get back at her’ for her feedback against them, which led to DPM Teo Chee Hean having to faster reply and say that it would be improper for either MPs or public officers to “get back at” each other because of disagreements over work.


Wah! our public servants really so hum ji meh? I really not sure about this so I go and ask around lor. Some of my friends are public servants so I went to check with them if they agreed with what Louis Ng said.

So the consensus from my friends was this (some of them have worked in the private sector). In any large organisation, there will be some reluctance to speak up, be it a bank or MNC and not just the public service. This may be because they are afraid of rocking the boat or offending their bosses.

And a lot depends on how receptive your boss is to genuine feedback and the culture of the organisation. You think carrying balls is exclusive to the public service? Think again, my friend.

My friends tell me that by and large their public service colleagues have heart to serve the people. Of course, there is always some black sheep in any organisation. But generally, they speak up if they have ideas to share. Although like in any organisation, the bosses make the final call. And fair enough, that’s why they are paid to make the important decisions.

And you mean Louis Ng is so garang that he will always speak up freely against his PAP bosses meh? Public servants also like quite poor thing, always kena whacked by him. I think we should cut our public servants some slack lah.