30 May 2013

Lee Kuan Yew, for 21 years  was Singapore’s Prime Minister. In 1990, he stepped aside and for the next ten years as a Senior Minister, mentored politicians selected to preserve the variant on democracy which he had created in Singapore.  He was adamant that North-Western European  style politics would not deliver the security and prosperity Singapore needed.  Soon after stepping down he commented  that, with few exceptions, “…democracy has not brought good government to new developing countries…What Asians value may not necessarily be what Americans or Europeans value. Westerners value the freedoms and liberties of the individual. As an Asian of Chinese cultural background, my values are for a government which is honest, effective and efficient…”

Singapore has continued to constrain liberty while championing honest, effective and efficient government. This is reflected in the World Bank World-wide Governance Indicators, where Singapore rates in the 90th percentile on five of the six indicators, placing it among the top 10 countries, but only scores on the 50th percentile for “voice and accountability”.

Singapore was ranked 5th in the 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

The enthusiasm for good government will be strengthened with developments announced this week.  A new Public Service Training programme will create a cadre of 500 expert leaders trained for senior positions in economy building, infrastructure and environment, security, social affairs and central administration. The aim is to deepen “… governance capabilities, perspectives and expertise…”

The intention is that sector experts will produce specialist leaders who will then train colleagues throughout Government.  An interesting aspect of the programme is that the curriculum and learning materials will be available, on line, to all public sector employees. Special tuition will be for a selected elite, but all employees will be able to follow the course.