Apr 15, 2007

To Join or Not to Join

Recently I said that I would change the focus of my blog. I had planned to make it more practical and useful for the average Singaporean, taking into consideration the prevailing social trends, government policies etc in this country.

Well, here goes. Today we look at HR policies in the civil service. There are certain things you ought to know, before you decide to join or not to join the civil service.

ST April 14, 2007
Promotion in Civil Service based on merit

I REFER to the letter, 'Is promotion in Civil Service based on tenure?' (ST, April 11), by Ms Elsie Tan Hwee Lian.

To be promoted, a civil servant has to show potential to handle a bigger job. A person with a high potential can expect to progress more quickly, provided he is also a consistently good performer.

An officer who does not show the potential to take on greater responsibilities will not be promoted, even if he has many years of service. Promotion is based on merit and not automatic, according to his years of service.

Ms Tan also noted that there are officers who continue to perform the same job after promotion. Unlike the private sector, civil servants are paid according to their salary grade and not by job appointment.

It is not unusual to have officers doing higher-level jobs while still in a lower grade. This is to stretch and test them. They will be promoted to the grade commensurate with the job size only when they are able to handle the higher job competently.

All Civil Service salary schemes have a performance-bonus component. Those who do well will be paid performance bonuses, with the better ones getting a higher quantum. Those who just meet the job requirements or under-perform will not get any performance bonus.

Most of our graduate schemes have a variable merit-increment system, where the annual increments are linked to performance.

In short, the appraisal system ensures that officers receive salaries that are commensurate with their contributions, abilities and potential.

Ong Toon Hui (Ms)
Director, Leadership Development
Public Service Division
Prime Minister's Office
This letter is well-written. It is a very careful, very deliberate gloss, over actual reality. Nothing that the letter says is actually untrue. Yet the overall picture that the letter does paint is quite misleading.

To understand how the system works, you first have to understand that performance and potential mean two completely different things in the civil service. They lead to very different, very distinct consequences in the official appraisal system.

For example, a civil servant may be judged to have very high potential, even though his performance is very poor. Alternatively, his performance may be judged to be utterly outstanding, and yet his potential may be judged to be extremely low.

Performance is linked to your annual bonuses and increments. Whereas potential is linked to your promotions. So Ms Ong Toon Hui is correct to say that those who perform well in their jobs will get bigger bonuses.

What Ms Ong isn't telling you is that those who perform well in their jobs may never get promoted. That's because promotions depend on your potential, and potential has nothing to do with performance.

Okay, then. How is a person's potential assessed or measured? It is measured by your CEP score. "CEP" stands for Current Estimated Potential. Theoretically, CEP measures the level of certain inherent, long-term qualities in each employee.

What this means is that once you have been assigned your CEP score, the civil service is probably not going to change that score (at least for the next seven or eight years, if ever). After all, CEP is a measure of certain inherent, long-term qualities in you - which cannot change.

Now, the civil service will assign you a CEP score, on your first day of work. Actually, that is untrue - your CEP score is assigned to you, even before you start work. Thus you can see that in terms of actual work, nothing that you actually do (whether it is utterly brilliant, or utterly dumb) can actually affect your CEP score.

The civil service generally does not tell individual employees what their CEP score is. (If such disclosures were made, no doubt some people would resign in double quick time. Then who would be left to do the donkey work?)

CEP scores depend largely on your educational qualifications (one or two ministries will also consider other things - for example, the Defence Ministry would consider your OCS performance) . There is a pecking order. PSC Scholars automatically get an extremely high CEP score, even before they start work. Non-scholars with a basic degree, no honours, go to the bottom of the pecking order.

I hope that by now, the implications are becomng clear.

If you do badly in school, and then you join the civil service, you will have a low CEP score. Even if you subsequently produce the most utterly outstanding performance year after year after year, you will still get promoted very slowly, if at all.

That's because your potential has been assessed to be low, and CEP is a measure of your inherent, long-term qualities which can't change.

In contrast, suppose a PSC scholar performs quite badly year after year after year. He will not get good bonuses, because bonuses are linked to performance. However, since his CEP score is high, he will still get promoted year after year after year. That's because CEP is a measure of his inherent, long-term qualities which can't change.

Thus how much career success you can achieve in the civil service, by the age of 45 or 50, has already been determined. It was determined when you were 22 or 24 years, at the time you first joined the civil service, on your very first day at work. Sorry, before your first day at work.

Below is an excerpt from an essay written by a US military officer, who had spent some time studying the Singapore Armed Forces. This part of his essay focuses on how SAF scholars and non-scholars are promoted differently. Note that the Government of Singapore uses essentially the same appraisal system for all government ministries (including the Ministry of Defence). So the excerpt below gives you a good idea of how the entire civil service, in general, operates:

"After being awarded a scholarship, scholar officers are commissioned four months ahead of their peers amd miss the second half of their professional military training during OCS. Although they make up some of this training during their academic summers, they are still very inexperienced compared to their peers who have spent four years in operational service.

Despite this vast difference in experience, scholar officers still will be promoted to captain one year after graduation at approximately the same time as their nonscholar peers. This program results in scholar officers being promoted far faster than their nonscholarship peers, despite the fact that they have considerably less operational experience.

.... The SAF uses a system in which officers have a currently estimated potential to determine how far an officer can go and terminal rank during his or her career. For the most part, this CEP is formed during OCS based on the officer's cadet performance and educational background ....

An officer's CEP spells out his or her career path for assignments, education opportunities, promotion and attendance at military schools. The result of this system is that officers are selected and groomed for even the most senior leadership positions in the SAF based on little more than on how they performed as a cadet during OCS and the strength of their high school transcript."

155 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is true in the past, but I think the civil service is trying to move away from this gradually, at least I think some statutory boards are trying to move away from this. So now you can see that even an overseas (civilian) scholar may not get his promotion until 3 years even with reasonable performance, though a non-scholar can promote in 2 years with good performance. Even in the SAF, though the key command posts are 95% reserved for SAF overseas scholars, a few non-scholars would be appointed to key command positions as well (though they may still be paid much less in the same post and rank, as they may be on different schemes compared to the SAF overseas scholars).

If we leave the admin service out (i.e., just talk about the general civil service), it is now much less clear in the last 5-6 years that scholars would move up much faster than non-scholars, as compared to say 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

MW, have to disagree with the CEP being something that doesn't change at all for the SAF. Definitely individuals are pegged with certain CEPs based on pedigree BEFORE they start but have heard of local grads with mediocre degrees getting fast tracked after proving themselves the initial years. Not quite possible if their CEP hasn't changed right?

Roger said...

As a student seeking an internship, I interviewed at a government agency recently.

When I entered the interview room, it struck me just how young the two interviewers were. They could barely be out of school!

It became quite obvious they were not trained to give proper interviews within the first few minutes.

Quite frankly, I was quite cheesed off. I found it derogatory that I may have to work under these individuals, whom would probably be credited for my work, and whom the higher ups had decided to empower --- quite obviously without empirical evidence of on-the-job performance.

I thought to myself, my reflex assessment of the situation: How can it be that these officers have already proven themselves as capable of interviewing prospective employees seeking a long term career in the civil service? They couldn't have been even 27! Essentially, I felt as if my long-term career prospects were being judged by fresh graduates.

Either the said internship opportunity was really a temporary job waiting to be filled by a cheap intern - rather than a possible long-term career opportunity; or these young scholars (I presume) have already been deemed to have a CEP so high that they, without much work experience (as I deduced) may already make the decision to hire other prospective career civil service professionals.

That's what I got from my experience. A bad taste in the mouth. Luckily, I have the choice here as I can easily find another internship.

Mr Wang Says So said...

- I understand that statutory boards were never required to adopt this system.

- Responding to Walsh's article, Col Benedict Lim made no attempt to deny the fact that SAF scholars are being "fast-tracked to the upper echelons because of their scholar credentials, while more experienced non-scholars or "farmers" — as they have been unceremoniously labelled — toil in vain". COL Benedict Lim would only say that the SAF was operating just "like the rest of the public sector". Link

Dr Oz bloke said...

Mr Wang, good post. Well written. Factual, informative and sharp.

But I just wonder. Why do you bother to continue writing all this?

civil person said...

Mr Wang, thanks again. People need to know how "world class" our civil service is. We can see how "talent" can be pre-determined instead of being discovered.

My take.

This CEP aim is probably to keep the "smart people" out reach of the people that does not wear white. The potential to join the other camps is more dangerous than the potential to underperform in their work. They are willing to waste some money on this.

Aristcrat said...

A very enlightening read here. But perhaps the reason for Mr. Wang's post is to shed light on what the majority /average Singaporean doesn't know (given that he is targeting a different band of readers now).

Oh, then that makes me fall under the majority/average Singaporean.

That aside, I would like to pose a question to Mr. Wang or whoever has the answer: May I know then, does the same (CEP scheme) apply to GLCs as well? An example would perhaps be our national carrier, SIA?

Anonymous said...

It applies to SIA definitely.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Since we are on the subject, can I ask about the PSC scholars? Is it true that even within the scholars themselves there is a pecking order? For example, there are those with the overseas merit scholarships or local overseas merit scholarships. I have heard they even give Singapore Government Scholarships where the scholars receiving this are not placed on their management associates program. So according to Mr Wang's post, everything for them is decided the day they enter the PSC interview room when they are just 18? Anyway, anyone heard of scholars who didn't quite make it into the fast track?

Anonymous said...

I knew from a friend that even NTUC uses this strange system.

However, there are exceptions in that non-scholars with excellent bootlicking skills could do as well as the scholars there ....

ray said...

some qns from me, someone who is wondering about civil service as a career option in near future:

hmm i understand mr wang was in civil service himself but was that quite some years ago already? is the system still the same now? cos i hear like what the guy in the first comment says, maybe the civil service is moving away from this rigid CEP thing?

also, maybe different govt bodies have a different culture within themselves? e.g. maybe only the govt sector mr wang worked in is like that, or is it uniform everywhere?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mr Wang!

I had never head of this CEP thing my entire life. It's so enlightening. No wonder I have friends who are extremely smart, but choose to never work in civil service.

I used to work in a GLC though. There was a ST scholar and a non-scholar who joined the company at about the same time. Immediately after Scholar came, she was given big projects and opportunities to attend meetings with bosses.

I used to wonder how they assessed one was more capable than the other in such a short time, since the non-scholar graduated top of her cohort in NTU too but she knew early on that she didn't want to be bonded, so didn't take up scholarships.

Non-scholar left the GLC after a year and joined one of the biggest foreign banks as a MA. She's progressing very well now.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang

For someone who's not in the civil service, you've got most of the details correct. Kudos.

You would also know that our civil service adopted this appraisal system from Royal Dutch Shell, However, I understand that Shell itself has stopped using this system or at least modified it (Shell insiders can perhaps provide more info here).

What is true is that scholars start off in the civil service with higher CEPS by simple virtue of them being scholars. But there is a pecking order here too. President scholars would be expected to reach the top (deputy secretaries and above) while local merit scholarship holders have a lower starting CEP.

The fact is, the first few years of a civil service career are important, as one's CEP is set in stone by the time one is 30. That's why the first few promotions for scholars are quite automatic but after that it all depends on how high they have managed to push upwards their CEPs.

Is it a good system? No in short. Breeds elitism of the highest order and only 'meritocratic' on the surface. Bascically because it's a self-fulfilling prophesy. If one already begins with a high CEP, any performance that a scholar puts will likely be assessed by the appraising superior to be of a 'higher' quality. It's a circular feedback mechanism, like the work done by an Ivy League graduate is perceived to be better than similar work done by a local graduate. The latter has to work doubly hard to make the same impression.

But the above 'halo' effect has diminished in recent years, what with the large number of scholars trudging through the corridors of our civil service. Now, even the scholars have to fight among themselves for the crumbs of promotion.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I understand that Shell stopped using the system some time ago. But I also understand that Shell never used the system in quite the same way as the S'pore government.

The key difference is that Shell would not assign a CEP score until after the employee has worked for at least 1 year, sometimes 2 years. Thus Shell, in assessing the employee's long-term potential, wants to have a chance to see how the employee actually performs on the job, over a period of at least one year.

The S'pore govt, on the other hand, assigns a CEP score immediately (at least, this was the case in the past). Furthermore, the "scholar" or "non-scholar" status of the employee is the most essential factor. In other words, your A-level results and ECA records at the age of 18 matter even more than your university grades (since your A-level results & CCA records determine whether you get the scholarship or not).

According to you, the civil service seems to be shifting away from this system now. It seems that CEP scores become set in stone only after the first few years. This is an improvement. Of course, it still means that scholars still automatically get a higher CEP score, on Day One, than non-scholars.

Anonymous said...

This CEP system is analogous to the GMAT scoring system.

As the GMAT scoring system is computerised, the first few question you anwswer have a greater impact on your final result, rather than the last few questions.

As you continue the GMAT questions, for every question you correctly answers, the system gives you a more difficult question. Conversely it would be true if you give an incorrect answer.

Hint of Peter Druker, "you are promoted to your level of incompetence"

Analogously, IMHO, performance/result in the first 5-10 years of work experience is probably indicative of your opportunity/work experience when you are in 40s. Score a few good hits, you gain experience/exposure along the way, build up your confidence and can consolidte your experience by 40s.

Have a few screwups, lose confidence, bum around, and it will be utterly difficult to change course by 40s.

Seen it on a few occasion.

cw

Anonymous said...

As an ex-employee of a government body and a GLC, and having worked on the HR front, I would say much of what Mr Wang say is not too far off the mark.

Since having worked for such organisations, I have signed the official secret acts, I need to be careful with what I say. So I can't be specific so I can be pin-pointed.

Anyway, in general, the two organisations I worked for often claim they have these objectives measures to assess people. By that I mean, they often use so call textbook HR techniques like kind of mumbo jumbo questionaires you are typically subjected too.

On the face of it, it make the HR department looks professional, but in reality, few people have clues about what they mean. Basically, some scholar manager, attends some HR course, then pinch straight from the textbook techniques and then tells the HR department to use it.

In reality, what happens is that a candidate come, HR collect the application forms, than pass it on to relevant departments to scrutinise. Often the case is the person looking at the candidates are too busy, will then see if a candidate has a degree or not and that's it. That's the situation for candidates not earmarked for big things.

As for candidates for big things, they don't come via the normal route anyway. They would have already been recommended via the scholarships board (of the agencies if they give or PSC) anyway. Thereafter, promotion is simply a matter handled by the CEO or his trusted deputies.

Also, to keep non-"big time" candidates from feeling left out of promotion. The organisation would invent big sounding titles. Even lowly programmers (usually permenant ones are given title like "manager") or in one case, given the title of junior vice-president of a department of one person.

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that some of these practice can also be found in non-GLCs private sector in Singapore too.

The reason for this is that some MNC companies, especially those dealing with contracts with the Singapore Government don't necessarily register their local companies as subsidaries of the parent company only represenative companies. They are in effect local Singapore company, intended to shield the parent company from any potential legal problem.

In these companies, their HR practices are essentially the same as the GLC ones.

Anonymous said...

i totally absolutely agree with this, for i have seen it in action.

it really burst the bubble of vision i had for education. and those who leaves the system are really those who have passion for teaching,not those who manage to stay.

Anonymous said...

In a way, this self fulfilling prophecy of the ciruclar feedback mechanism is really similar to the education system in most schools. Students are all also graded from day one, and streamed into different classes, and given different teachers. All from day 1. What happens after that, well it's the typical thing. The good classes get the better teachers and more education opporutinites such as exchange programs, while the less capable classes do not. Just like the CEP system, this education system merely improves already capable students, ignoring the weaker ones.

The wonders of meritocracy.

Ned Stark said...

Perhaps the ideal meritocracy is one where all are given equal chances to perform and as long as one is able to perform he will be able to get the promotion/job/course etc etc. Unfortunately that is not the case as seen in the eg of the civil service, where even if a person with a lower CEP works and performs better he gets no promotion (though he gets a bonus). I believe for guys who have served national service they would realise that the truly capable regulars are short changed by the system due to barriers which only scholars can breach.

Anonymous said...

Even if they change the "meritocratic" system, the result may still be the same because there exists a whole bunch of medicore-performing scholar elites at the top who decide subjectively whose (bootlicking) "performance" is really up-to-mark.

Anonymous said...

XCS says:
During my time with MINDEF, the CEP is defined as your potential to reach the rank of colonel. Theoretically, this seems all right except that in many many situations, your reporting officer is often of rank below that of a colonel. He may be from a captain to LTC.

The obvious question that begs to be asked is this: Can someone who has himself not attain a col's rank say with any certainty or accuracy what your CEP is? Yet, this happens routinely every year during the reporting period. By what stretch of the imagination can we expect such 'crystalballing' by a CPT or a MAJ. It just might be possible for a LTC to do this, but it is asking too much for someone more junior.

In fact, when you think about it logically, the mystery deepens further when you consider whether a CPT, MAJ or even a LTC reporting officer who is himself NOT of COL CEP. You are asking a misfit to make a judgement call on someone under him. How reliable or dependable is that?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if what you mentioned is true in the civil service, but it's not quite true for the SAF. CEP is assigned before an officer joins based on results, etc. Scholars will enter with a higher CEP than non-scholars, but it's not fixed It will change in the first 5-10 years where the actual potential is assessed based on performance and work done during that period. So non-scholars who put in effort (albeit they have to do more than scholars) also has the chance to raise their CEP to match the scholars.

kwayteowman said...

Mr Wang,

Now, the civil service will assign you a CEP score, on your first day of work. Actually, that is untrue - your CEP score is assigned to you, even before you start work. Thus you can see that in terms of actual work, nothing that you actually do (whether it is utterly brilliant, or utterly dumb) can actually affect your CEP score.

You are spouting absolute nonsense again. On what authority do you make this above statement? From the KTM's understanding, you were only a lowly DPP while you were in the AGC's Office. Seriously, what makes you an authority on the Civil Service HR policies?

Also, interesting that you quoted this ang mo fella. If you yourself didn't get to get the Civil Service ranking and promotion rules, what makes you think that the ang mo did? Just because Benedict Lim didn't do a point-by-point rebuttal it means that this ang mo is right? You certainly are sophisticated in your thinking. :-)

As for Shell, you may wish to know that the KTM spoke with this Shell HR person a couple of months ago. It's true that Shell once junked the system, but they have since re-introduced it. The key difference between Shell and the Civil Service is that in Shell, the CEP assessment is told to the employees (and this apparent transparency generates a host of its own problems).

For example, a civil servant may be judged to have very high potential, even though his performance is very poor.

How can this be true? You are suffering from brain damage?

You are blatently spreading lies about the Civil Service. Why?

Anonymous said...

And i wonder, on what counts do the KTM make his claims that mrwang claims are wrong? Given the superior wisdom that you seemingly purport, should you not then be fully capable of providing us with a truthful and accurate account of what really happens? Please do so then.

geriatric_eunuch said...

Indeed, Anon has beaten me to the obvious question: we all know there's harm in kwayteow, why has KTM omitted the beef?

KTM has accused Mr W of "spouting absolute nonsense again" (my italics), unsophisticated thinking, spreading lies about the civil service, and brain damage. He even seemed to know which Shell person was in play (is there just the one?) without any names being mentioned. This implies that KTM speaks from, or for, an absolutely unimpeachable information source. And yet hard information is conspicuous by its absence. We need to know: is KTM speaking from a position of superior ignorance or can he point to some verifiable data to back up his charges?

Jimmy Mun said...

Maybe the man who is definitely lying about frying kway teow can explain what motivates liars to lie?

I fail to see any reason for Mr Wang to write what he wrote, other than shedding light on the truth. The civil service/GLCs are welcome to rebut him, or even sue him.

As for the lying hawker, it is obvious his job is to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt.

X said...

Dear KTM,

I agree with the commented posted before me, that if you must insist that Mr Wang has erred in his portrayal of the CEP system, why not tell us what the 'real' picture is supposed to be?

On authority, do you then suppose, that if Mr Wang were CJ Wang, he'll be in a much better position to write this post? And do I detect a hint of personal attack in that statement? (...lowly dpp...)

It would really have been much more valid if you asked Mr Wang just where he got his information from, and judge for yourself whether it was a credible source. By your logic, I can't say Kway Teow is oily and fattening because seriously, on what authority do I have to say that? I'm just a lowly foodie, not even a connoiseur and definitely not the guy frying the kway teow.

You might be wondering about the credibility of the US military officer. Considering the article was published in a journal (Armed Forces & Society), I believe we can afford some benefit of doubt here. Seriously, if all of us in the scientific field were to be as cynical as you were, all the labs will be busy replicating each other's experiments and there would hardly be any progress.

I don't profess to speak for the rest, but this much I will say: this is an avenue for open discourse. Where we disagree, we argue and challenge til we get sick, or think it's time to move on.

Your idea of "you're not expert (enough) on the subject matter so go to one corner and get yourself a nice tall glass of shut the F up" may work elsewhere, but here, I think it just seriously retards thought.

Just my two cents.

X said...

And because I took so long to leave a comment, make that 3 people who left the comment before me.

Anonymous said...

http://jollypuddle.com/?p=455#comment-4414

"The KTM is a big kay poh and he has managed to learn a couple of random things in his life and so perhaps he might share with you what he learnt about the Civil Service CEP system.

First, this Div I/Div II thing is inconsequential for you. It is used to classify the difference Schemes of Service so that the can figure out which benefits apply to who. Div I are the graduate officers so you are undoubtedly a Div I officer. What’s the significance? None that you should be concerned about. It has NOTHING to do with CEP. :-)

It’s true that Shell invented the CEP system, then dropped it. However, the KTM heard that Shell has been re-adopted again in recent years. The main difference between the Shell system and the Civil Service system from what I have heard is that the Shell fellas tell their people their CEPs straight in their face, i.e. you are going to be no more than a janitor. In the Civil Service, your CEP is a state secret. Even your HODs may not know exactly what it is. Probably only your P would know since he/she sits on the ranking board.

The CEP system was designed to avoid the problem of the Peter Principle, i.e. people being promoted to incompetence (but it’s clearly not completely successful if you look around). The theory is that if we can figure out what is the highest position a person can be expected to perform competently at the end of his career, then we should peg his/her position at that job for age 50 and interpolate between present time and retirement age. Sounds good in theory but there are many difficulties in implementing such a scheme.

The BIGGEST problem is that we don’t have an oracle that we can ask: so, how good is this fella and the oracle will return the answer. Therefore, the scheme that was devised to churn up the numbers is this process called ranking. Theory again is quite straightforward. You take all the teachers and order them according to how good you think they are relative to each other. Given that the number of P, VP, HOD positions are finite, we can figure out the appropriate ratio who would eventually have to take up these positions. We cannot use the current ratios, because we have to factor in the fact that some teachers are young and will take time to get there…. so the CEP ratios are somewhat more generous that what would be suggested by the existing staff structure, i.e. ratio of P:VP:HOD:CRT (Classroom Teachers). To cut to the chase: ranking decides CEP, not the other way around.

CEPs are supposed to be re-assessed from year-to-year, since it is an estimation mah. However, there is a perception that they get “fixed” after a few years in practice. But then again, this is not altogether surprising because if the assessment (estimation) was accurate, then why should the CEP change? If you have a late bloomer who suddenly become extremely outstanding after sleeping for a few years, or if someone starts slacking big time, then the CEP should theoretically change. However, we have to ask ourselves how often should we expect to see “significant changes in potential”?

The fact that CEPs don’t change isn’t a problem. It shouldn’t be if the assessments are accurate. If people want to find fault, then the question is HOW the assessment was done to begin with. However, there is no answer to this question either ‘cos at the end of the day, the assessments are done by people and people are fallable and prone to biases. What many like to do is however to blame everything on the system, which the KTM thinks is quite irresponsible. :-)

Then there is also this other thing called performance ranking (that’s where you get your A,B,C,Ds), which is supposedly different from CEP ranking, but in general, there is usually correlation (if your boss likes you, your boss likes you. Does it matter what kind of ranking we are talking about?). Main difference in performance and CEP ranking is that while CEP ranking includes all teachers of all ranks, performance ranking is done within ranks. The idea here is that the expectations on the work done by higher ranking teachers is greater (or at least different) and it is only fair to compare people who do similar kinds/amounts of work.

The KTM doesn’t know how “helicopter vision” is operationalized in schools, but what is sure is that if you cause your boss(es) grief of any kind, it does not bode well for your assessed “helicopter vision”. MOE is too far away for the average teacher to butt kiss. :-P

Seems that MOE has not done its job by explaining to the teachers how they are assessed. The KTM believes that appraisal systems should be transparent."

Repressive force said...

Jimmy, I think the KTM also spreads harm around unless you record your order on CCTV explictly saying "mai harm" when you ordered.

Folks, consuming too much harm can retard one's mental abilities.

kwayteowman said...

X,

And do I detect a hint of personal attack in that statement? (...lowly dpp...)

Hmm. Actually it wasn't a personal attack. Rank is important because if Mr Wang were a senior DPP, then he might have presided over a ranking board and actually know something. "Lowly" is perhaps a bad adjective. Let's try "junior"?

It would really have been much more valid if you asked Mr Wang just where he got his information from, and judge for yourself whether it was a credible source.

Wouldn't have done any good 'cos the cited statements are false and they can only come either from his imagination or from a non-credible source. :-)

Your idea of "you're not expert (enough) on the subject matter so go to one corner and get yourself a nice tall glass of shut the F up"

Actually, it's nothing like that. :-) The statements that Mr Wang made are either true or false. The KTM is simply asserting that Mr Wang has made some blatantly false statements. :-P

this is an avenue for open discourse

There is actually no real room for argument or discussion here. Mr Wang has made statements of fact. Those statements are either true or they are not. They are not a matter of subjective opinion.

And why are people so kuncheong spider? Mr Wang can certainly speak for himself can he not? :-)

Jimmy,

Dun kuncheong hor. Mr Wang might just be getting a letter from PSD for all you know. This article is still fresh and it will take a while before PSD gets to know about this.

Then again, they might also decide that Mr Wang is too insignificant for them to want to act against him. Or they might have their hands full thanks to the recent salary hikes? :-)

The KTM is actually curious to know what legal remedies the Government has against individuals who publish statements that false and "detrimental" to the interest of the Government at large. Perhaps Mr Wang may wish to enlighten us? :-)

Anonymous said...

Fear, not power, corrupts
By Elia Diodati
(http://diodati.omniscientx.com/2007/04/11/fear-not-power-corrupts/)

The KTM starts off with all these faked smiley faces, but it's easy for the intelligent readers to detect that he is highly insecured (a man full of fear)...a person with so much to fear that he has to instill fear...a tool used by some that we are not too unfamiliar with.

Anonymous said...

KTM likes to make unsubtantiated claims anyway.

He even twisted the words of SM Goh. Then complain that bloggers twisting the words he puts in SM Goh's mouth.

Check out http://zyberzitizen.wordpress.com/2007/03/16/very-well-educated-singaporeans-bright-young-people/

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

You might like to checkout the experience of the Chairman of O2 a UK mobile telephone company, who spoke about his experience during his days in Shell* and some mentioned of CEP.

http://www.o2.com/media/external_events_756.asp

*Shell is actually composed of many independent companies. So the way individual companies operates may not be the same.

Anonymous said...

More references about research on performance appriasal in Singapore.

http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-8500.00129

Anonymous said...

An analysis of Singapore Civil service performance measures by HK civil service.

http://www.jsscs.gov.hk/en/publications/pwc/appendix_d.htm

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Mr Wang says about this. Anyway, KTM, I think you know that if you say anything or defend anything remotely close to the government or civil service, you will definitely get flamed and people will get angsty. fact of life from what I have seen from these blogs.

I believe that the KTM appeals to logic and rationality because how can any organisation operate like that without fear of significant backlashes? Personally, I don't really know about this because I am too young (Not much exp lah). However, I tend to side with the KTM on this as I don't believe anyone up there are crazy enough to give fixed CEPS based on just the one simple scholarship interview. What makes you think they are more stupid than you and I. (But I think that the KTM should also substantiate his claims with sources which everyone has access to. So can see for themselves mah.)

On the other hand, Mr Wang appeals to us because who doesn't want to hear stories how the government is screwing up or how they are wasting our money. Especially in light of recent events.

At the end of the day, we will never know who is right or wrong unless either Mr Wang or the KTM manage to show us some evidence that goes beyond anecdotal.

geriatric_eunuch said...

Well, well, a Wee bit of damage control here, methinks. NO snide remarks this time around, just a mildly threatening opinion that Mr Wang might just be getting a letter from PSD for all you know?

Mr W's utterly non-political insignificant musings must have touched a raw nerve. For an instant a confident, avuncular, oily mask slipped to expose nicely bared reptilian fangs. Now, where have we seen that particular reflex before, I wonder? Of course it never hurts to toss in the odd mah, ang mo, leh from time to time too - gives the message that delightful common touch in keeping with the jolly, ever-so-moderate, humble persona, hor?

So KTM quotes KTM to support his point that Mr W spouts absolute nonsense: what's de phrase for dat? Er, circular reasoning? No unbiased resources to cite, meh?

KTM: In the Civil Service, your CEP is a state secret. Even your HODs may not know exactly what it is.

But somehow, astoundingly, KTM would like us to take his word for it that he does know an awful lot about the mysterious workings of this state enigma. His assertions are emphatically the gospel truth, Mr W's and other commenter's opinions are absolutely false, and "there is actually no real room for argument or discussion here". In fact, he's certain enough of his ground to maintain that Mr W is "blatently (sic) spreading lies about the Civil Service". Clearly KTM can't be a 'lowly' (or let's try 'junior') ranked hawker then, so don't you pig-ignorant peasants dare argue with him. Or else.

Perhaps he ALSO has access to Mr W's shrink's report inferring 'brain damage', eh?

My, my, that lends a whole new meaning to the term 'BIG kay poh'. Eh, uncle, not to be too kancheong or spidery OK, but can give tutorial about the art of kaypoh-ology or not, ha? I oso want to learn how to be a smoothie and dig-dig state secret like you, lah.

Anonymous said...

i believe that the KTM has a very low CEP to start with so he has to bark extra hard to gain performance bonus at year end. I mean Sg is already so bleedy crowded & noisy, why do we still get dogs in the Internet? Hey, I'm not responsible for your poor CEP!

We need some peace here to see things clearly. :-)

Anonymous said...

Whether harm was intended or not< the KTM need not be that antagonistic accusing> Obviously he seemed to have facts to back himself and why not just enlighten with those facts?

Anonymous said...

My husband is an administrative officer in the elite service that none of you had the misfortune of joining ;)

Yes, at 36, he was already drawing 200k pa (high achiever).

When I first heard about the CEP thingy from him, I couldn't stop laughing. Yes, he knew there was a CEP but he did not know his CEP. In fact, this is one major flaw of the system.

It's like it's all decided by your genes (LKY's pet). You have no say as to how you can change your CEP because this is not discussed with you. Over the years, he noticed that those excellent bootlickers are deemed having higher CEP. I think my husband finally realised what the CEP is about, after a decade with the service.

For those who aspire to join this elite service, I have some advice. The rewards are high if you play your cards right. Otherwise, you may have to bark very loud to get the attention you want and still don't get it.

By the way, might was well let you people know since I am not under any secrecy act. My husband tried leaving the service. Attended many interviews with what you haves ... Citibank, Morgan etc they are willing to hire him but not at the pay he was commanding in the service because his worth is not tested. Citibank, for example, told him that they will pay a rate at which the employee is deemed able to contribute at least 3 times more to the bottomline.

No company is willing to take such a risk yet. He always regretted going for that PSC interview to be a scholar.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I can't reveal which cohort my husband was from thus some ambiguity regarding his service tenure is necessary.

Because, most of the AOs of his cohort had left the service and it's very easy to spot him out.

They all left with lower pay. Some returned for reasons personal to themselves but they are not retained as AOs anymore. Because of their AO status, they generally enjoy good prospects in the GLCs.

ex-teacher said...

Not sure how authoritative KTM is on the CEP, but it is definitely true the MOE practises that.

It is a surefire way to piss off competent non-scholars.

ex-teacher said...

"KTM: In the Civil Service, your CEP is a state secret. Even your HODs may not know exactly what it is."

KTM is spouting nonsense. The HODs do know. I got it from a horse's mouth. Those who claim they don't are either lying or blur sotongs.

If the CEP is a state secret, then it is definitely an open secret that even an insignificant "kaypo" hawker knows.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Ex-Teacher:

In the teaching service, HODs may know that their subordinates' CEP, but I believe that HODs do not know their own CEP. Let me check that with my brother, who is a school principal.

Within the Legal Service where I came from, I believe that CEP scores are treated with more secrecy. Reason is that the Legal Service is small, and tends to be a little overrepresented with PSC OMS and Presidents' Scholars. There are more sensitivities to deal with, eg if the 50-year-old judge knows that his 27-year-old President's Scholar protege is slated to overtake him within five years.

Anon 9:25 am's AO husband not knowing his own CEP is not at all unusual.

Those who wish to understand more about the Shell system which the S'pore government uses can refer to Gregory Thong's book "Human Resource Issues in Singapore" - there is a chapter therein devoted to the topic. The book is a little dated, but tells you, at least, about the way things were back in the late 1990s.

The US military officer who wrote that essay did so after being stationed for months in Singapore on an official exchange programme with the SAF. He is a 2005 graduate of the United States Military Academy, where he earned a BS in comparative politics and East Asian studies. In the summer of 2004, he was placed on temporary duty to the United States Embassy to the Republic of Singapore. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the United States Army Ranger School. His research interests include comparative military systems, ethnicity, and gender in the armed forces and security challenges in Asia. He wrote his essay for a professional US military journal. I believe his research carries more weight than KTM's.

CEP scores in the Civil Service must be fixed early, because scholars are regularly promoted immediately after the *first* year of work. This cannot be possible if CEP scores were not already assigned (if you have no potential, you can't be promoted). The other way you know that CEP scores are already assigned is that very early on (eg within 2 or 3 months of starting work), you will see scholars getting a bigger training budget than non-scholars. Potential is tied to your training budget; those with high CEP scores get a bigger training budget than those with low CEP scores.

Anonymous said...

i think it is very obvious ktm sprouts non-sense. he makes no secret about it: look at his icon, doesn't it look like shit?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Citibank, for example, told him that they will pay a rate at which the employee is deemed able to contribute at least 3 times more to the bottomline."

This, by the way, is a fairly standard benchmark for many commercial organisations, for the frontline fee-earners / profit-centre employees (eg sales people).

They have to earn enough to cover the organisation's fixed costs too - rent, support staff's employee etc.

Anonymous said...

No system is perfect but that shouldn't prevent you from trying to devise the perfect system.

The underlying principle of the CEP is a valid one. The objective is to separate workhorses from thoroughbreds. The better the CEP method of scoring, the more accurate the results.

No man made system is perfect, so there will be some discrepancies and anomalies in actual outcome. Some thoroughbreds will be overlooked and mistaken as workhorses while some thoroughbreds through some quirk may not perform or fulfill their potential.

Ask yourself what are the odds that a workhorse will win the Kentucky Derby? Can a cow no matter how well trained and willing, ever run like thoroughbred?

If you had to invest on a yearling to pay handsome dividends that it could perhaps one day win the Kentucky Derby what would you buy? A thoroughbred or a workhorse?

This is not elitism. Just plain common sense.

TC

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Not quite possible if their CEP hasn't changed right? "

--

Just to explain why CEP is very difficult to change. Conceptually it is supposed to be a measure of your long-term traits that determine your long-term potential.

It cannot fluctuate from year to year. Eg suppose you have a high IQ of 150 in the year 2004. It is not supposed to fluctuate - your IQ shouldn't, for example, decrease to 100 in 2005; then climb back to 140 in 2006, then fall to 110 in 2007.

(I use IQ as an example - it's not one of the 7 or 8 attributes officially used in the appraisal system - but IQ is a simple way to illustrate the idea that CEP is measuring long-term, stable, non-volatile attributes of the employee).

Mr Wang Says So said...

"No system is perfect but that shouldn't prevent you from trying to devise the perfect system."

Criticism of the system is not my objective, in my current post. As mentioned, I am aiming for a more practical and useful approach for my readers.

As I had stated, I merely wish to highlight certain aspects of the system, to Singaporeans who may be contemplating a career in the civil service. My post did not say anything about whether the system should change, or why, or how.

In fact, on the basis of my post, someone may well logically conclude that he SHOULD join the civil service (eg he is able to get a PSC scholarship and would like to enjoy the "free-ride" advantages of the CEP system for him).

Anonymous said...

Nomenclature in the Civil Service varies according to different ministries too.

http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=14395

We should also explain that the nomenclature used by MTI in our job designations is different from that of many other ministries/agencies. In MTI, an Assistant Director is equivalent to an "officer" in other ministries, while a Senior Assistant Director is equivalent to a mid-level Manager. This is because, in our trade policy work, many MTI officers, even those at fairly junior levels, represent Singapore at various multi-fora meetings and, because of their relative youth when compared to their counterparts in other countries, may not be taken seriously if they are not given titles that at least approximate those used in the other countries, where titles such as Assistant Director are more common. Despite the nomenclature, we are very flat in our reporting structure, and our Assistant Directors often report directly to a Director (and not through, say, a Deputy Director). This way, we cut several levels of red tape and are able to respond quicker to demands and requests. This is also the reason why we are able to take on many more heavier responsibilities with minimal increase to manpower.

On the corporate communications unit specifically, we would like to point out that MTI, being the economic ministry with arguably the most outward-facing orientation engages in a high level of interaction with not just the local business community and media, but also with foreign governments and media. Hence, the tasks undertaken by the unit are many and varied. It not only handles a large number of press releases and speeches, media and public enquiries, as well as official events, but also manages and maintains inhouse, the MTI website. A visit to our website's Newsroom (at www.mti.gov.sg/public/NWS/frm_NWS_ASearch.asp?sid=60) would show that hardly a day goes by without a press statement and/or a speech being made. The unit also deals with frequent stories in both the local and foreign media, as well as innumerable courtesy calls on MTI's ministers and top management from around the world.


So how junior is a DPP in the Ministry of Law? Does "rank" play a part in whether a person is fit to comment on a matter he is familiar with?

KTM sounds like some SAF officers. No rank, no talk!

cannotsleep said...

Other than the CEP and 3x bottomline method of assessing potential, what are the most common and popular methods used today?

kwayteowman said...

Anon 9:25 AM,

You may wish to refrain from revealing your husband's age and pay if you don't want him to be identified.

Actually, by now, your husband should be able to roughly guess at his CEP by comparing with his peers and the batches of AOs before and after him.

Mr Wang,

CEP scores in the Civil Service must be fixed early, because scholars are regularly promoted immediately after the *first* year of work. This cannot be possible if CEP scores were not already assigned (if you have no potential, you can't be promoted).

Hehe. So you have revealed that you have no idea what's going. Perhaps the KTM can explain to you what's going on. You claim that this is not possible if CEP scores were not already assigned. It turns out that for certain Schemes of Service, notably the Admin Service and the Legal Service, officers can sometimes be promoted one year into the service as a mechanism to ensure that they are paid what is deemed "market-rate". This is pretty much an automatic promotion in the first instance (and only for the first instance) unless they screw it up royally.

The other way you know that CEP scores are already assigned is that very early on (eg within 2 or 3 months of starting work), you will see scholars getting a bigger training budget than non-scholars. Potential is tied to your training budget; those with high CEP scores get a bigger training budget than those with low CEP scores.

Another bogus claim. Tell us, how much emphasis is there on training in the Civil Service? Who wants to drop his/her work to go on training? Do the bosses really like their subordinates to go or training and thereby have no enough people to work for him?

If the KTM has to make a guess, it will be the fellas with the lower CEPs who will be sent on training most often. :-)

Criticism of the system is not my objective, in my current post. As mentioned, I am aiming for a more practical and useful approach for my readers.

Fair enough, but you are making false claims. While people are calling for the KTM to substantiate his claims, the KTM sees no such need. Neither has Mr Wang been able to substantiate his, so it's all fair. :-)

Please do not make generalizations for the Civil Service from your limited experience and tenure in the Legal Service. Your approach is neither useful nor practical if you feed your readers with unsubstantiated lies.

ex-teacher,

The HODs do know. I got it from a horse's mouth. Those who claim they don't are either lying or blur sotongs.

They may think they know but they can't be sure 'cos quotas are imposed on the system as the rankings float upwards. Gradings can change. Sometimes the final CEP may be communicated to the HODs, but this is unlikely to be an SOP.

If the CEP is a state secret, then it is definitely an open secret that even an insignificant "kaypo" hawker knows.

Maybe it's because the KTM is a kaypoh that's why he knows. In any case, one clarification: the CEP system itself is not a state secret (otherwise the KTM would be charged under the OSA already). What is a secret is the final ranked CEP of the individual officers. I hope this clarifies matters. :-P

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Ask yourself what are the odds that a workhorse will win the Kentucky Derby? Can a cow no matter how well trained and willing, ever run like thoroughbred?"

---

This reminds me of another interesting question - can a fish climb a tree? If you would like to understand the significance of this question in the context of the present discussion, click here.

Can a thoroughbred ever produce milk like a cow? If protein and calcium is what you need, would you choose a cow or a thoroughbred?

As mentioned, the S'poe govt took its CEP system from Shell. In its original system, Shell itself sought to base CEP on four attributes:

Helicopter Quality,
Analytical Ability,
Imagination
Reality, Sense of

("the HAIR attributes").

S'pore govt copied these, and added a few more of its own, including "Political Sensitivity". Where it then went monstrously wrong was to equate "Scholar" with a high score across all the attributes - in other words, it made the systemic assumption that if you're a scholar, you would automatically possess helicopter vision; be analytical; have imagination; be realistic; be politically sensitive etc etc.

Meanwhile Shell already realised the limitations of its system and dumped it. Not interested in HAIR anymore.

Worldwide, top organisations are now shifting to a strengths-based approach. The idea is that we shouldn't have any fixed ideas about what the ideal employee is like - on the contrary, we should seek to identify the unique strengths of each employee, and encourage that employee to use his own unique strengths, and deploy them in positions/areas where he can use those strengths fully.

In other words, if you need milk, get a cow. You want speed - ride a thoroughbred. You need to swim - get a fish. You have a tree to climb - get a monkey.

Modern organisations are too complex to have a single model of the ideal employee. You need different individuals, with different attributes, personalities, qualities etc, to meet the wide range of challenges that the organisation will face.

I have no doubt that the senior folks in the Singapore civil service are, by now, well aware of the limitations of the CEP system. Change is happening or will happen - it takes time to change, that's all. The unfortunate thing is that change will be slow, due to the nature of the civil service. In the civil service, bad things can't be torn down quickly, because you always have to be careful about stepping on the sensitivities of the original persons who created the lousy system. So you have to make changes in small little increments - you can't just say: "Mr Lee, your appraisal system has turned out to be really, really bad, I recommend scrapping 90% of it immediately."

kwayteowman said...

Mr Wang,

To give you credit where it's due, the KTM must say that the following assertion seems to be true:

Within the Legal Service where I came from, I believe that CEP scores are treated with more secrecy ..... There are more sensitivities to deal with, eg if the 50-year-old judge knows that his 27-year-old President's Scholar protege is slated to overtake him within five years.

And so is your assertion that the CEP tends to be "fossilized" after a few years.

Finally, as the KTM mentioned, it seems that Shell has re-introduced the CEP system in some manifestation. The details of which are not known to the KTM at present.

Mr Lee, your appraisal system has turned out to be really, really bad, I recommend scrapping 90% of it immediately.

In any case, the KTM disagrees with you that the CEP system is necessarily bad or broken. The KTM has studied it for quite some time. His conclusion is that the weak link is in the people.

But in any appraisal system there will always have to be people and people will bring along their baggage and biases. It's not clear that it's even possible to factor out human failings in ANY system.

Warmest Regards.

Mr Wang Says So said...

KTM:

I would engage you, if I believed that you were interested in genuine discussion.

Past history, on more than a few occasions, shows that you merely like to make personal attacks on me. When I ignored you, you even sent long, tedious, unsolicited email to my personal email account complaining about why I didn't visit your blog, did I see your latest response, why am I not responding, how I have defamed you etc etc. You even made stupid remarks like "Mr Wang must look ugly, that's why he refuses to appear on TV when invited by Mediacorp."

A few of your Singapore Angle compatriots were even worried that I might be offended at them, for your bad behaviour. I told them, "Of course not, his bad behaviour is not yours."

Please grow up. Don't waste my time.

Persist in your bad behaviour, and I will have you completely deleted from my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr Wang,
Want to add to the performance and potential appraisal system as detailed in the ST forum.
Do you know that performance bonus has a fixed budget, and that not all good performers are rewarded. Also, it is always almost skewed towards the Scholars when it comes to ranking....

Well, to have good performance, one must work hard on his job. Guess who are given more oppotunities when it comes to jobs! Scholars! bingo!

So, it is a chicken and egg issue.

Yes, there may be exceptions, there always is, like the first Malay NDP parade commander, or the first black lady Defense Sec in US etc... but look at the main stream, how it all stacks up.

On paper, it looks good to demonstrate a fair appraisal system that focus on performances, but on the other hand, limit the number of good performers. Now, that is a good one. At the end of the day, back to square one.

Just like the Singaporean University banding system on who gets first class Hon etc. Top 5% of cohort can smell it, regardless of actually how good the individual actually is or has done.
Quota system only works during times of emergency, like a war, or when lost at sea on a lifeboat with 10 surviours with only 1 liter of potable water for the gang. Prolong ones life in times of extreme hardship, hoping to be rescued.

So, potential and performance based appraisal sounds wonderful, but once the icing is removed, the bitterness of truth lingers.

However, I must stress one thing, Public Service presences some jobs that no ordinarily citizen can ever dream of. Likes of the military services. Try having a loaded gun up your temper and for the moment, flashes of family and friends and loved ones is all one can remember. What must I do to see them again...(not joking now)

rC

Anonymous said...

"Persist in your bad behaviour, and I will have you completely deleted from my blog."

Yes please. I am really tired of reading his comments where he always refer himself in the 3rd person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Wang,

I like to tell you a story about my friend who is working in NCS. He is a scholar somehow....means he get scholarship to study when i met him in Melbourne. Mine is a go-everywhere-ask-for-loan kind.

After our studies. Somehow, he progressed very well. Despite having 2 breakfast session, a tea-break session and having to nod his head during meeting (he is given instruction to do so).

He gets a decent high 3ks when we get back to singapore. And I struggled with a high 1k (2002 depression)

However, I survivied and I can do job hoping as and when i like. Unlike him, who is now struggling to get out of this lazy, retiring environment. Mentally, he can't do so. He is so used to his laid-back working lifestyle.

I am always glad, despite being lowly paid initially I learn to survive.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Other than the CEP and 3x bottomline method of assessing potential, what are the most common and popular methods used today?"

I will elaborate on this in a future post, based on my previous experience as a high-potential employee in a certain organisation. This was a "fast track" system.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anon April 16, 2007 11:50 AM:

I know what you mean. I have a good friend, a DSTA scholar, who was in a similar situation.

The problem for many civil servants (not all) is that their skills are often not easily transferable.

My friend, for example, was involved in RSN's submarine projects. Now seriously, there are hardly any places in the private sector where such experience is directly relevant.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Wang,

I am considering taking up a PSC scholarship (Need the money, my family is not rich). Just want to ask, is it really true that a civil servant will find it very to leave the service because no one would want to employ him? I'm going to read engineering and I am thinking about my future prospects after the bond. Thanks a million.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Anon April 16, 2007 12:04 PM:

I will blog about this in a future post.

Anonymous said...

Just one clarification, as an ex-supervisor in the civil service. The CEP can be adjusted during each year's annual work review, i.e. it is not cast in stone. I have face cases where we (the supervisors) felt that someone deserved a higher CEP and successfully requested for it to be increased.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Wang. Your post has shown a lot more about KTM then expected. What a joke. Never know when you could hit a sore spot in other people.

Anonymous said...

"I have face cases where we (the supervisors) felt that someone deserved a higher CEP and successfully requested for it to be increased."

I have done that for my Div II officers. More often than not, my deputy director will overrule my and my boss's decisions. Why he did that, I don't know.

kwayteowman said...

Mr Wang,

Past history, on more than a few occasions, shows that you merely like to make personal attacks on me.

You overrate yourself to think that the KTM is interested in making personal attacks on you. This is the blogosphere and it should be clear to you there's such a thing known as freedom of speech.

Perhaps you are being too modest here. :-) Given past history, it would seem like Mr Wang is the one with a greater penchant for personal attacks. :-P

When I ignored you, you even sent long, tedious, unsolicited email to my personal email account complaining about why I didn't visit your blog, did I see your latest response, why am I not responding, how I have defamed you etc etc.

Thanks for highlighting this. As it turns out, the KTM responded to you some two weeks late or something and what you saw was the KTM's belief in the "right of hearing". The KTM wanted to give you a chance to respond. Whether you choose to respond or not is your choice. It wasn't a case of "why didn't you visit my blog". It was a simply "hey, I've responded to you. Sorry for the delay. You may wish to respond, if it pleases you". Very democratic to say the least. :-)

You even made stupid remarks like "Mr Wang must look ugly, that's why he refuses to appear on TV when invited by Mediacorp."

Got meh? KTM only said he himself (KTM) looked like cockroach what. The KTM has never met you before. How in the world is the KTM going to know what you look like?

A few of your Singapore Angle compatriots were even worried that I might be offended at them, for your bad behaviour. I told them, "Of course not, his bad behaviour is not yours."

As you know, SA is pretty ad hoc and people are free to speak as they wish. For the record, this comment has nothing whatsoever to do with SA.

In any case, what past history got anything to do with this discussion? Does past history have any bearing on the truth of the statement(s) that you are making?

Persist in your bad behaviour, and I will have you completely deleted from my blog.

Define bad behaviour? Not agreeing with you? This is your blog and you are welcome to do as you see fit. If you cannot take it, then delete loh. So much for free speech. :-)

For the record, the KTM never threatened to delete YOUR comments from his blog. And of course, it follows that neither has the KTM ever deleted your comments. :-)

Alright, the KTM has said enough on this issue. You have made it abundantly clear that the KTM is not welcome here.

Adios. :-P

Anon 12:46 PM,

I have done that for my Div II officers. More often than not, my deputy director will overrule my and my boss's decisions. Why he did that, I don't know.

Probably because of quotas. The system is not perfect.

Anonymous said...

To the person consider a PSC scholarship:

See what you want to do with your life. If you want to get married early, have kids and lead a comfortable live, take the scholarship.

If you want something more interesting, give tuition or find alternative sources of funding and attend a local university. There are plenty of funding options these days.

regards,
Someone who didn't choose the PSC route

Anonymous said...

KTM, you are bordering on trolling and baiting Mr Wang to start a flame fest with you. Since Mr Wang and the rest of the posters are actually having a sincere discussion about civil service, I do implore you to take your personal grudge against Mr Wang somewhere else.

Anyway, I am interested in the next discussion about whether it is advisable for a student in real need of a scholarship to apply for a PSC scholarship.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

You miss out one point. The scholars rarely got rated as having bad performance by their immediate boss because they know that the scholars will be fast-tracked for promotion and there is a possibility that these scholars will become their boss one day.

Anonymous said...

Not many of us would know so much about the civil service system.

I admire KTM's knowledge. I think he is frying something more than kwayteow.

Yes, my husband was involved with the appraisal system and was in PSD when Lim Siong Guan decided to fine-tune it.

He was later assigned to "teach" some GLCs to apply it. Some managers actually told him that the hardest part is to assess the CEP of an employee, macam fortune telling. Look at Sim Mong Hoo at 18, who would have thought he would helm Creative one day?

The concept of CEP is ultimately, a subjective one based on prescribed desirable attributes. What is so foolproof about it? All appraisal systems can't avoid the subjective element.

To me, it's another way to reinforce the premium we place on branded education. Something our ministers pride themselves to have.

Anonymous said...

http://lemondroplets.spaces.live.com/

I quote Minister Teo Chee Hean in the need to "compare apples to apples" in the Ministerial salary debate. Currently, the Minister's salary is pegged to the top earners in Singapore, while their bonus is pegged to the GDP of Singapore.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the value of goods and service produced within an inanimate geographical boundary does not sit well with the pegged to real life persons of the Ministers' salaries. Moreover, Singapore has an extremely small agriculture and natural produce base to significantly justify the use of GDP in calculating the value-add of the Ministers' work.

We should peg the Ministers' bonus to the Gross National Product (GNP), which measures the income of all Singaporeans. This will ensure that the denominator of real persons' incomes for both the salary and bonus of the Ministers are common. Minister Mentor has on many occasions impressed on everyone, that Singapore sole most valuable resource is our people. The peg to GNP will validate this fact.

Making Singaporean's income the performance indicator of our public office holders will assure all Singaporeans that Mr Maliki's "by the people, for the people" Government interview given to an Indonesian reporter earlier is, beyond doubt. This also sends an affirmative signal that the public office holders are not in only for the money, but are keen to serve the nation through the key responsibility of increasing Singaporeans' annual value.

It will also put to rest the debate that Government favours foreigners over Singaporeans in their policy making.

I believe Prime Minister Lee, who has proven the these points correct by donating his increment for the next 5 years, is the best attestment for the implementation of this peg.

Anonymous said...

I can say with confidence that as much as I respect Mr Wang, KTM is probably right this time.

CEP is not always decided when you first enter the Civil service. Take even the much derided Singapore Armed Forces. DXOs in the SAF decide their own CEP through a computerized system when they decide on their own levels of promotion. Opportunities to rise often exceed the number of applicants to rise. (Can't reveal more, sorry) People often end up with higher CEP or even lower CEP depending on their preferences.

Perhaps there is a broad CEP at work here but to suggest that structural reasons are always at play over individual choice is a little too far-fetched.

curious said...

People often end up with higher CEP or even lower CEP depending on their preferences.

I don't understand this. You mean civil servants have a hand in determining their own CEP? How?

Anonymous said...

> Where it then went monstrously wrong was to equate "Scholar" with a high score across all the attributes - in other words, it made the systemic assumption that if you're a scholar, you would automatically possess helicopter vision; be analytical; have imagination; be realistic; be politically sensitive etc etc. <

The weakness of the CEP system I believe was recognised and tweaked. Didn't LKY admit in an interview recently as much when he said he initially made the mistake of recruiting only PHDs who could not perform to expectations?

> Finally, as the KTM mentioned, it seems that Shell has re-introduced the CEP system in some manifestation. <

Does this not suggest that the CEP selection system has merits after all and perhaps Shell prematurely threw away the baby with the bathwater?

> So you have to make changes in small little increments - you can't just say: "Mr Lee, your appraisal system has turned out to be really, really bad, I recommend scrapping 90% of it immediately." <

If the present cabinet ministers are performing badly and below expectations then you would be correct to say "Scrap this system." Are they?

TC

spamme said...

MR WANG > KTM

Enough said. KTM is a troll and flame bait. Obviously a papanon doing his masters barkings...

I will take Mr Wang words over KTM anyday.
KTM have been sprouting nonsense since day 1

Mr Black said...

This is becoming KTM vs Mr Wang... rather than a civilised discussion. This is really getting out of hand!

Anonymous said...

I thought the furore over the pay hike is exactly about that.

The ministers don't deserve their pay increase because they had only performed, at best, satisfactorily!

I concur with the collective wisdom of Singaporeans.

Mr Wang Says So said...

From the comments given above, I would guess that the system has changed.

- CEP still has to be assigned to civil servants from Day One (otherwise a variety of HR issues like training budgets, career planning etc would not be possible). But it seems that CEP scores are more malleable than they used to be in the past. It is possible to have CEP scores changed; they might possibly be reviewed annually.

- (This actually represents such a big conceptual change from the original Shell system that I don't even think it's accurate to still say that the govt is still using the Shell system).

- PSC scholars are still automatically being assigned higher CEP scores. No civil servant or ex-civil servant commenting so far is disputing that. Something to bear in mind, if you're considering joining the civil service (as a scholar or otherwise).

- I'm not aware that GLCs use this kind of system anywhere as zealously as the civil service. I seriously doubt that it could work for GLCs, anywhere as much as it could in the civil service.

- The reason is that GLCs operate in a much more competitive environment than the Singapore government. Eg if DBS gives big bonuses to an employee who performs well, but consistently refuses to promote him because of his low CEP, then in double quick time, this employee is going to be poached by UOB, Stanchart, HSBC, Citibank, OCBC or ABN AMRO. Whereas most civil servants lack that kind of direct transferability into the private sector.

- As far as GLCs are concerned, I think that they are already aware that many HR policies of the civil service cannot really work for them. Read this:

Scholarship System Blues

you will see that GLCs are already aware that the government strategy of using scholarships to get talent just can't work for GLCs.

- I quite acknowledge the fact that no system is ever going to be perfect.

Mr Wang Says So said...

By the way, people who want a very quick nutshell explanation of why scholarship systems don't work for companies should REALLY click on that link above, and read.

Anonymous said...

There are many types of government scholarships. The ones from which the Admin Services draws most of its recruits from are the SAFOS,SPFOS, and OMS. If you have an empathy for the PAP's approach to governance by all means go for these but not for the others which are shopkeeper type scholarships. If you have this mental mould ( thanks to the piel of the 149th MSM ) you will not find your conscience pricked and your expectations thwarted when you return to serve. Be prepared though to just work as a scribe taking notes of meetings or preparing aide memoires, or as a junior spinsmith writing speeches for ministers and acting as butlers for them when you are asked to be part of the official delegation to overseas conferences.With the new salary scales, the money is not bad and may be worth selling your soul for. But it will be costly should you decide to leave later on e.g after the bond period ends. Private sector jobs can be had only if you are willing to take a big pay cut and you will find yourself competing with others 6 years younger than you!

Anonymous said...

To anon 3:18pm,

What do you mean by shopkeeper type scholarships? It seems to me that the PSC doesn't really offer other scholarships other than those that you have listed, unless you are talking about the L-OMS.

You seem quite knowledgeable about this. What is the difference between the shopkeeper scholars and the other OMS scholars you were talking about? Care to clarify?

Aaron said...

At the end of the day, I think Mr Wang means well, and I don't think what Mr Wang said was wrong, for it was based on what he knew. It has been some time since Mr Wang left the Civil Service, and if something has changed then, I don't think it's fair to fault Mr Wang for that.

KTM undoubtly seems to have more updated information, and it's certainly good for everyone to get the more recent news, which is to the benefit of everyone. I think that KTM is also operating with good intentions, just that his words are probably too sacarstic for some people.

At the end of the day, whether Mr Wang is right or whether KTM is right, both of them start with good intentions, and as bystanders, we should just read and decide what to believe for ourselves. Whatever personal feud there is between the both of them is none of our business. :-)

Anonymous said...

GLCs also offer scholarships themselves too.

Some of these organisations, especially those with big HR staff, may conduct so call CEP. Others will typically, like Mr Wang says, rely on agencies prior to entry (usually, that means,academic results, eca points, etc).

To do CEP seriously, it can be a time consuming and costly process. In reality, this is not done with any rigour, as it is often not practical to do so. CEP actually involves some understanding of statistical analysis (at least an understanding of the meaning behind numbers collected). In any case, board members making up any selection panels, have operational duties too. Also HR departments are not always too capable of complex statistical analysis, if they want to make numbers mean anything.

I suppose for GLCs, most of the so-called top talents, some might say, parachuted in, so CEP of in-coming personnel would have been determined before hand anyway.

On a general note. CEP like many so called "objective" methodologies, are sold as being objective on the basis that numerical measures are being used. In Singapore, they seemed to be a culture, that if something can be boiled down to numbers - it has the virtue of "objectiveness", which many equates to "fairness".

In reality, the objectiveness depends largely on how an observer assign numbers (on some scale) to an attribute. In statistical terms, if you got a more than one person, observing an attribute (say, Mr Wang mentioned HAIRs) and assigning numbers, you could get a "norm". The more you get the margin of error reduces. Fine in theory.

If you set too high a margin of error, the sample size will invariably be big to the point of impracticality in terms of cost and time. In reality, you will get no more than 5 people scrutinising the attributes of a single candidate. Even so, observer fatigue might set in, which could skew the observations. Or in CEP cases, preconceive notions will invariably set in.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Thank you, Aaron. That sounds sensible. People should indeed decide for themselves whether KTM is right or wrong. For example, when I wrote about training budgets for civil servants, he wrote:

"Tell us, how much emphasis is there on training in the Civil Service? Who wants to drop his/her work to go on training?"

Since I am trying to provide useful information to people who are considering a career, I should say here that the civil service is not lacking in training opportunities.

It is in fact compulsory for your boss to send you for at least X number of hours of training per year. If he fails to ensure that this is done for all his subordinates, this will be held against him during appraisal time.

The civil service takes its training so seriously that it has an entire college, complete with library, training rooms, auditorium, international programmes etc, dedicated to providing courses for civil servants from all ministries.

The college building is very large, and there are courses for civil servants going on, every working day of the year. The Institute of Public Administration and Management is part of this college.

The college itself falls under the Public Service Division, which falls under the direct purview of Lee Hsien Loong's office, which should give you an idea of how important training is regarded within the civil service.

In fact, the college is a statutory board, which means that its existence is mandated by law. It cannot ever cease to exist unless Parliament passes a law to shut it down.

The college runs so many courses that it needs 170 pages just to list and describe the courses it runs in a single year.

Finally, the civil service also offers many graduate and postgraduate scholarships. My brother took one of these and did his Masters at Stanford (prior to becoming a principal, as I had mentioned earlier).

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, with bond, of course.

Anonymous said...

Even if KTM means well and is right about the things that he wrote, the language and tone that he uses is a big turn off. Learn to be more polite and gracious in leaving comments and expressing views and he will definitely be welcome here.

- Janice

Mr Wang Says So said...

"GLCs also offer scholarships themselves too."

If you click on the link I provided, you'll see that there is a distinct trend of GLCs moving away from that practice

Anonymous said...

to aaron, you think ktm is also "operating with good intentions"?

yea, i definitely agree. for pap, NOT SINGAPORE.

Anonymous said...

Shopkeeper scholarships are the closed service scholarships specific to certain ministries like MHA, MOE, MFA or stat boards like IRAS,CAAS,JTC etc. Receipients of such scholarships are only slightly better than farmers i.e. non scholar graduates in that they will not come under the radar screen of the PSD for fast tracking, increased expo via inter ministry projects, overseas seminars/courses. They are also unlkiely ever to be posted out of their sponsor ministries/stat boards so career advancement is slow and limited. Of course there are exceptions but very few and far between.

Anonymous said...

To Janice:

Agree with you. I was also taken aback by the hostility and ferociousness of KTM's comments. Quite unexexpected of KTM.

- P

simplesandra said...

roger wrote: "It became quite obvious they were not trained to give proper interviews within the first few minutes"

If one thinks it's bad enough for grads with average degrees, it's more appalling for non-degree holders. ;-)

I've seen my fair share of young senior officers who had to turn to their executive officers to get their job done time and again (no guessing who took the credit); yet these execs can only expect to get promoted laterally; and neither one I knew ever got recommended for further studies.

Didn't surprise me when these execs promptly quit after they got head-hunted by the private sector.

That was years ago. Don't think much has changed, except that they now recruit degree holders instead for executive positions.

Okay, a bit off-topic here. ;-)

cannotsleep said...

Adding to Sandra's point, it seems as if the civil service is very slow in reacting to changes.

I'm currently studying at a local university which does not follow the "1st/2nd class honors" system. Apparently (as recently as one year ago), MOE(and I assume this extends to the other ministries) only recognizes degrees with honors when they consider the starting pay. Which means a "summa cum laude" means practically nothing to them.

Definitely not a good incentive for us to join them.

Sensei Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sensei Michael said...

Oh, how close to the heart does your post cut to me! This is precisely the reason I left the civil service

My post why I left

Lance said...

I must say that this discussion is very interesting. Read all the comments so far.
Very worried about this bias towards scholars in the civil service. Am a degree holder who grduated from Beijing am not on scholarship and I just signed up for the teaching contract with MOE. If it's true that non-scholars are gonna be discriminated in favour of scholars when it comes to promotions and pay in teaching it's indeed very disheartening. Not to boast but I think but Chinese is on par at least with all those other scholars. Its sad to think that MOE places so much emphasis on this scholarship thingy.
Does anyone have anything to add about this bias in the teaching profession at least? Would like to hear from more people about this.
I must say its pretty demoralising for a soon-to-be-teacher to gonna know you're going to be discriminated from day one.
To cannot sleep:
I was very angry too when I found out that honours grads get higher pay than pass degree grads in teaching. Did find out later though that MOE also takes into account other factors as whether u are a scholar, what uni u graduated from etc. E.g. I have one scholar friend who graduated from Dartmouth summa cum laude he got honours pay all right. Then a few of my Singaporean scholar friends who grad from China also got put on the honours salary scale albeit 1 rank lower than the Dartmouth guy. That info SHOULD be reflected on their website though.

loving gertrude said...

Sensei Michael:

Oh, me no been into civil service.

But then, me thinks... I'm so not going to want to work in a place where the gahmen scholars confirm plus guarantee plus chop will automatically get higher CEP than me.

Hmm.. but a certain Nicholas will then say I sour grapes so I is green-eye monster.


kwokheng

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there are any PSC scholars out there reading this? Maybe you guys can tell us your side of the story.

h said...

I was on a PSC local teaching scholarship. I taught in a govt sch for a few yrs before joining an indept sch. Since I was a MOE staff for a short few yrs, I did not know my CEP then (nor now =P). Anyway my feeling is local teaching scholars are not very different from non-scholars. They still teach and slog like mad. Of course boot licking people are around, so all things equal scholars may get slight advantage... this is only my guess. Overseas scholars will of course climb much faster in teaching.

Anonymous said...

Indeed think that KTM could be more cordial< less impeaching and more enlightening for he is full of knowledge> I like his kwayteow chowtar(overfried) or not and with or without harm! Btw KTM does not allow anonymous post at his blogs hence he cannot say the blogosphere is free for anyone

Anonymous said...

New teacher:
My VP just asked us teasingly if we will like to know our CEP during post-lesson observation meetings.

Let's be fair and not to say things like the best teachers are those that have left. There are those who tried their best but gave up, and there are those who are still trying. Education is a challenging job worldwide, do give credit for those who are at least there.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I know a PSC local teaching scholar. He was definitely a very, very good teacher; in fact, even though he was my friend, not my teacher, I found him utterly inspiring, one of the most inspiring persons I have ever met in my life.

In fact, he won an award from Teo Chee Hean, for being Singapore's most outstanding young teacher.

I blogged about him here.

Alas, after I posted that post, a reader left a comment to tell me that my friend had already resigned from the civil service. Another loss for Singapore.

Meng Chong said...

2 cents worth.

Keep the discussions objective and deal with the topic at hand. Personal flamewars not withstanding; it is impossible not to be heated or passionate when one argues one's view.

The key is really to agree to disagree. And remember, you reap what you sow.

言論自由!

Anonymous said...

MW,

Please do not delete KTM. Two reasons I can think of off-hand.

First, it'll open you to attack that you acted in an unjustified manner, and his posts are the primary evidence that exist in your favour in such an event.

Second, everyone could do with some comic relief at his expense, especially since he volunteers. Even if you are tired with this particular whetstone for your wits, I'm sure there are many readers out there who do learn or otherwise benefit from reading the dialogue.

Not sure if you have read about the latest LSRP, but there's a lot of informational chaos going on right now.

- Bass

Anonymous said...

Abt teaching.

I have some younger friends in their mid 20s (and distant relatives in their 20s as well) who are in teaching. they all went through the official "NIE training-with pay-then bonded for X years" thingy.

ALL of them want to leave when their bond is up. Obviously, none of them were fast-trackers. :/

I'm a teacher in a pte sch. I didn't go through the whole "NIE" thingy, cos I felt it was a complete waste of my time.

I should be grateful. :)

ex-teacher said...

KTM,

"Another bogus claim. Tell us, how much emphasis is there on training in the Civil Service?"

Don't you know that every teacher is encouraged to clock 100 hours a year of training but certain individuals get to attend more expensive courses than others, especially those who are groomed for higher level positions? Of course you will claim there is no written rule.

If the CEP system is as good as you say it is, then surely it's effectiveness should not be be that easily tampered with by individuals? In fact, its integrity is as good/bad as that of the HOD/suject head or whoever is assessing his subordinates. And I am not even going to list the kinds of tactics some of them use to keep competition at bay.

When it comes to reliability of sources, I'd much rather give more weight to what, say, a long-serving HOD tells me than someone who is only here to make conjectures and yet thinks he is more authoritative than Mr Wang who has at least served in the Civil Service before.

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that the pay increases are higher for those at the top of the pyramid such as Dep Sec and Perm Sec. At these levels there are very few premature resignations. Most such as Han Cheng Fong, Cheong Quee Wah, Alan Chan, Thong Yik Min ( retirements are not counted but even these such as Philip Yeo, Joe Pillay, Ngiam Tong Dow, Tan Chok Kian, Eddie Lee, Sim Kee Boon and Andrew Lim end up in government linked post retirement jobs.) are in GLCs . Can't recall any who joined the real private sector such Morgan Stanley, GS etc. Han Cheng Fong was in DBS Land before his present appointment in F&N. So the argument that the raises are needed to retain them in office is not supported by the facts. And as pointed out already, it seems that only GLCs welcome them. At the lower levels e.g SR9 where the attrition rate is real, the survey shows that the remumeration is comparable. So pay could not have been a pull factor though it is probably the usual polite reason trotted out at exit interviews. After all who wants to bad mouth your ex bosses or the system ( even if this was the real reason for leaving ) given that Singapore is only a little red dot and you are likely to cross paths again...So those who qualify and are thinking of taking a OMS or similar scholarship and think they can be like one of the elites...there is no better time to do so...the money has never been as good and can only get better! Golden cuffs have got more golden!

Anonymous said...

Hi all, I have just left the SAF and was given a local study award for my university degree. What I say comes from my experience and is only applicable to SAF, I have no idea what goes on in other ministries although I have heard they are copying this system.

To be honest, the description by Mr Wang is generally correct. Potential (CEP) and performance are separate rankings and your potential determines what level of performance will give you a promotion. For e.g., a straight A ranking will give you promtion in 2 years vs 3 years if you have lower CEP.

However, if you get a shit ranking and there are scholars who fuck up as well. they of course will not be promoted or take a longer time. So when Mr Wang says still get promoted year after year is not true. However, if you just do the same as a non-scholar, your rate of promotion of course is much faster lah. In essence, there are mathematical formulas linking performance and CEP rankings which determine your promotion rate.

CEP can be changed and is ranked every year, however drastic changes are discouraged and there are some penalties involved. However, given a short lifespan of an SAF career, approx 20 years, even if your CEP is increased when u're past 30, it's virtually impossible to play catch up.

SO, end of the day, my take on the system. It is THE SAME as most out there in the private sector, if you take care of the boss, the boss will take care of your ranking (performance & CEP). Of course, there will always be a glass barrier for non-scholars (name me a non-SAF/president scholar among all the chiefs of service?). But then, this system is a bit like management associate (MA) positions in private companies. They pick the best they like and then groom the shit out of them, those cannot make it they drop. However, becos military don't hire from outside, therefore all the best is taken by scholars.

The problem i see is that its a self-fulfilling propehcy most of the time, if given enough opportunities to grow and learn, scholars will of course succeed (they're not stupid). The danger is
that every mother up there has the same mindset, same background and same thinking. [mee siam...mai hum??]

Anonymous said...

Looks like Kway Teow Man has run away again.

Lance said...

Annonymous, you said you're teaching in a private school. What school is that?
I agree that NIE is a complete waste of time. Unfortunately not many private schools want Chinese teachers I think.

nec tamen criminosus said...

Check this idea out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wisdom_of_Crowds

Don't you think that the CEP system may lead to inbreeding, and promotes "group think"?

Imagine a bright "star" storming his way through the civil service. Would it be human nature to stand in his way?

Would the people within contradict and say hang on, I don't think he is of such a high calibre at all.

To be given a high CEP, the person must have gotten a good degree or intellect. He or she must possess a certain level of ability.

I think a scholar would know if he or she is within the high CEP bandwidth or not. But since every one else can easily guess as well based on the speed of progression of the high CEP scholar, won't that lead to some degree of patronage?

Hence, leading to group think. The performance of the group is collectively affected by its "smartest member" i.e. highest CEP member.

Any comments on this Mr Wang?

KiWeTO said...

to: nec tamen criminosus

I think its misleading to accuse just the CEP system of promoting groupthink. Its a symptom, but not a root cause.

The entire system promotes groupthink. We all want to hire people like us, who dress like us, have the same tastes as us, like the same things as us. Its more comfortable.

Mavericks and outliers are people who are not like us. And in a bureaucratic organization like a civil service, they are the least welcome, since they have a tendency to ask that most dangerous question - "Why?"
(and the answer usually upsets a few apple carts when the irrationality or illogic of the source of the question is revealed.)

if CEPs are measured on things like grades and CCAs when one first 'signs on' with the civil service, truly, given that the majority of us all have cca "Records" - what really do the words "president, xxx club" mean?

eg: in writing one's CV, just stating the position means nothing because it gives no context. One could have been president, but accomplished nothing. still, its a title worth xxx points in some scoreboard.

The root question then should be - should potential be measured simply by ruled metrics or should they be subjectively measured by the immediate bosses and colleagues?
(on this debate between objectivity and subjectivity, remember that any 'objective' measure was first subjectively determined usually in committee!!!!)

There are no perfect potential evaluation systems. If it existed, then elitism would be more than just a bad concept. It would truly be genetic reality.

Luckily, the wider world doesn't always only reward one for being good in school and tests; pithy that is the easy way out for a large organization such as a civil cervice.



E.o.M.

Anonymous said...

How do you know that KTM is not someone who has more authority on this issue at hand?

Anonymous said...

KTM was formerly with the Civil Service, and was one of the Assistant Directors.

Anonymous said...

I thought KTM only know how to fried kway teow. I never thought he is the assistant director of kway teow division in civil service.

No wonder his kway teow command respect and praise.

ted said...

Hah, if he was a assistant director before, is he trying to mock the rest of the hawking profession by adopting such misnomer? Real hawkers don't refer themselves in the third person, and they don't make bogus claims that overturns a basic pillar of economic theory. Talk about waiting for opposition who understands economics and policy making.

For you guys and his information, good policy making is not in the exclusive intellectual property of the Singaporean Civil Service, so stop being so naive about policy making. If after all his years in the CS and he thinks policy making is only about trade-offs, then perhaps I can understand why he is not in the CS now.

Anonymous said...

Even if KTM was AD, it doesn't mean he knows anything about CEP.

See the comment at April 16, 2007 9:25 AM - even AOs don't necessarily know anything about CEP.

On the other hand, I must say that KTM's comment about the civil service not focusing on training is soooooo highly naive and makes me doubt if he really knows anything about what he's talking about.

Yes, it is true that every teacher is encouraged to clock 100 hours a year of training. And that is quite a lot, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang hit it on the nail with the difference between Potential & Performance. some people really do nothing and get promoted. those few non-scholars who make it on the fast 'ala scholar' track are either extremely brilliant or a showcase that non-scholars can also make it.

but on the CEP, i think although a CEP is assigned before the officer starts work, it is adjusted within the first 3 years of work. so the "almost final final" CEP is determined after 2-3 yrs. the first year of performance is hence particularly impt. your boss better like you.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, do you have any comment of the quota system in civil service? Is PSD has decentralised the performance and ranking to individual ministries, why quota is still being set?With quota set, good performance officers are sacrified because of their age( hence CEP reached) edu qualification. It is so unfair

Anonymous said...

AD may sound like a big shot, but its not. If the KTM can call Mr. Wang a lowly DPP, how is he any different. Infact you can't swing in dead cat in any government department without hitting an AD. AD are a dime a dozen in the civil sevice. Just because the KTM was a AD doesn't mean jack shit. To paraphrase him, he's just a lowly AD.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dear me,

KTM - what have you done to yourself?

Never mind - pick yourself up again. I do enjoy KTM articles, and his unique insights. However I too thought you came down too hard with your branding of Mr wang, which I believe is uncalled for.

God bless, take care. All of us want a better Singapore, and with you bloggers writing on, I am sure we will triumph.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous Apr 17 1.21pm,

Current practice these days when junior timescale DPPs get posted to Ministries to do legal work, is that they assume a Ministry designation. Depending on the Ministry's idiosyncracies, this varies. Usually, it translates into AD although some timescalers have been known to be designated DD or even D.

Anonymous said...

LOL, you can't fight with the lawyers lah. An entry-level DPP already earns around $1,500 > than other types of entry-level graduates in the civil service.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm a psc overseas scholar (open). Here is the pecking order for sholars

1. Prez Scholars (usualy SAFOS)
2. SAFOS / and below them SPF
3. OMS
4. Ministry specific tied scholarships eg MFA
5. Kucing Kurap LOMS
6. Teaching (LOL)

Groups 1,2 and 3 can move in between ministries, they work in small teams that work on inter ministry issues eg. You could be in MEWR working with MND to beautify waterways. You sit in meetings and take notes for your director, or if you are lucky, your perm sec and his kakis. Typically your title will have the words planing, policy, strategic etc. Easy to get noticed, work on a few big projects before moving on to another ministry. Emphasis on planning grand projects. It's ok if it fails, you'll be somewhere else LOL!

SAFOS scholars are pretty much guaranteed colonel, before being seconded to a ministry. If you really like the saf then i guess you could be a general.

OMS scholars are pretty much every bit as high flying as their SAFOS brethen. For girls this is the second highest scholarship they can get, after the Prez's scholarship. Note: You get OMS first and then on top of that you get Prez. Sort of like buying insurance with a rider policy on top of existing coverage. There is the SGS Scholarship but that has been phased out, it is supposedly less prestigious than OMS but as far as I know the scholars are treated the same. there might be some technical differences, but you'd have to refer to the bond contract for that.

MInistry tied scholars can only rise in their specific ministry, will most definitely see schoalrs from other ministries become their bosses even though they know jack shit about the department. You probably could become a director before 40.

LOMS - if you get offered this by PSC, run, don't walk away. You are a second class citizen.

Teaching. You get offered two tracks, one in the ministry and one as an actual teacher. Take the former, unless you really love kids/teaching/marking homework. Some of the smartest people I know are on this schoalrship but the powers that be have decreed that they aren't to be as high flying as their OMS counterparts. You can gof rom OMS -> Teaching but not the other way around.

There is a career fair every June/July for returning scholars. Open scholars theoretically (EMPHASIS ON THEORETICALLY) get to choose their top 3 ministries, and interviews are arranged. If the ministry likes you as well, it's a match! A ministry's choice overrides your choice.

To the guy deciding on a PSC scholarship, here's the general rule. If you are poor, take the scholarship. Having money is nice. It's ok to be a little unhappy in life, not all of us can end up working for google. But if your household income is more than $10k, your parents do not have 3 kids they need to send to school and have little or no mortgage debt try making it on your own. A PSC scholarship will close more doors than it will open.

Is the system perfect? No it isn't. Will you be able to change the system? Probably not. But it does a reasonably good job of attracting bright people who otherwise would not join the civil service to enter into a mid- long term contract with them

Anonymous said...

Someone in one of the postings asked if it is true that when scholars leave Government service, no one will want to employ them.

If this is the case it does not square up to the argument that our top talents (scholars) are in demand by the private sector.

Anonymous said...

Looks like KTM has written a long post about the civil service to fight back Mr Wang's wrong assertions about the civil service. Wonder Mr Wang will have the balls to go there and refute him.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 17, 2007 11:27 PM

Are you looking for cheap thrills?

loving gertrude said...

anonymous said...
Looks like KTM has written a long post about the civil service to fight back Mr Wang's wrong assertions about the civil service. Wonder Mr Wang will have the balls to go there and refute him.

April 17, 2007 11:27 PM


I wonder more about why KTM doesn't have the balls to appear before a public crowd; unlike Mr. Wang.

loving gertrude said...

Maybe the presence of ADs in the midst of farmers carry a heavier price tag.

*shrugs*

Anonymous said...

I don't think much of someone who calls others liars when he sweeps his own ignorance/ lies under the carpet with disclaimers and then insists that he has got the facts right from some unnamed "authoritative" sources which can be just as dubious for the sake vested interests.

If they are telling the truth, especially in favour of the CEP, why hide behind the cover of unnamed sources?

Anonymous said...

Lance April 17, 2007 1:10 AM:

The reason i wanna go into teaching is because i think its one of those few vocations that appreciate with age. Vocations like nurses, doctors, lawyers, teachers, lecturers etc. I hope this is my ticket out of this damn place. *crosses finger*

Maybe I'm pessimistic, but to me, any other vocation i hold in SG will render me redundant when I hit 40. I'm trying to clock some teaching hours while I still can. :)

It is one of those private schools in town, but i'm not saying which. Trust me, I knocked on many doors before I landed this one. No problems with me being Chinese. Maybe I was lucky.

Salary wise, I'm getting slightly more than friends who'd gone through the NIE route. They've joined the teaching field EARLIER than I did (i'm still considered a newbie teacher, although i'm older), and sat through the ENTIRE NIE training! Of cos, you have to consider the fact that they're teaching pri and sec sch levels, while i'm handling grad. level. Maybe that's the difference in pay, although my friends and I have similar education levels, i.e, Bachelors.

Well, so much for the belief that'd been ingrained to us since God-knows-when that Dip holders can only teach O levels and below, Bac. holders can only teach Dip and below, MBA holders can only teach Bac. and below.

I should be grateful. :)

Mr Wang Says So said...

LOL. I took a quick look at KTM's article. There's hardly anything that he really disagrees with me, maybe a few minor points.

Problem with KTM is that he tends to miss the trees for the wood. Looking at the big picture, my basic message is this:

(a) Non-scholars are placed at a clear & automatic disadvantage when they join.

(b) Even if non-scholars perform very well, outstanding performance translates directly into annual bonuses. Not promotions.

KTM has some minor quibble about when exactly a CEP score is assigned. I say that the initial CEP score is practically pre-determined, according to a pre-existing formula. KTM disagrees. Well, look at the comment left by a scholar at April 17, 2007 8:38 PM:

Hi I'm a psc overseas scholar (open). Here is the pecking order for sholars

1. Prez Scholars (usualy SAFOS)
2. SAFOS / and below them SPF
3. OMS
4. Ministry specific tied scholarships eg MFA
5. Kucing Kurap LOMS
6. Teaching (LOL)


LOL. There's your pre-existing formula (part of it, anyway). If you still don't get it, suppose a President's Scholar and a Kucing Kurap LOMS start work on the same day , 2nd January 2007, at the same ministry.

The President's Scholar already has a higher CEP score. This is what that commenter is trying to tell you. The system doesn't say - "Oh, let's assess these two employees, give them some projects, review their performance on 30 June 2007, or 31 December 2007." NO! The President's Scholar, by virtue of being a President's Scholar, already has a higher CEP score than the Kucing Kurap LOMS ... This is automatic from Day One. Sorry, before Day One.

Which is why the commenter can say what he says. He is telling you - "if you get X type of scholarship, you will get X type of CEP score". Even before you have actually started work, the commenter can already tell that. So OF COURSE your CEP score is pre-determined.

Anonymous said...

Anon at April 16, 2007 9:25 AM

// My husband is an administrative officer in the elite service that none of you had the misfortune of joining ;)//

You try to make this as a joke, but I think you and your hushand think it is a misfortune, but others will think he's sitting on a gold mine.

// Yes, at 36, he was already drawing 200k pa (high achiever).//

The other way of looking at it - the AOs are grossly over-paid.

// Citibank, for example, told him that they will pay a rate at which the employee is deemed able to contribute at least 3 times more to the bottomline. //

And your husband can't even achieve that? And you called him high achiever? More like over-paid under achiever. For your info, those in the stockbroking industry will have to earn at least 6 times their costs.

// No company is willing to take such a risk yet. He always regretted going for that PSC interview to be a scholar. //

Tell your hubby to thank his lucky star that he is a scholar and "untouchable". He is overpaid and not wanted by the private sector. Don't mistake his high pay for over achievement. As you can see from Mr W's thesis, your hubby is probably one who fits this formula -- scholar = high CEP = high pay -- never mind his performance.

This is the sad part of linking salary to a formula. The really good AOs are able to go to the private sector, or enticed there by high pay. The left-behinds and cannot-make-it-in-the-private-sector free-loafers are enjoying the high pay and still complaining...

Who says life is fair?

Anonymous said...

Intruiging comment thread! I think we are getting more and more acquainted with this strange beast known as CEP.

I am reproducing something a reader posted in another entry under this blog sometime earlier this year. I thought it looked like a very credible post on CEP too but nobody commented on it subsequently so I am wondering if anyone can corroborate on what is said about CEP here.

Here it goes, reproduced below without any editions made:



Hi, I did ranking when I was in NS at Mindef. There're some misconceptions and errors about the CEP system. Please note that I am not pro CEP system. I' m here to give an objective view on how the system works, not an evaluation on its merits and demerits. Here's how the CEP system works:

CEP is a measure of the employee's highest attainable rank/position(SAF/civil service) before retirement.

It is calculated based on a set of 10 criteria. As far as I can remember, they're -- political sensitivity, imagination, sense of reality, communication, leadership, teamwork, respect accorded by peers, ability to handle pressure, problem solving ability and most importantly HELICOPTER QUALITY.

Helicopter quality refers to the person's ability to identify problems within the larger context and solve them accordingly. Basically, a person with high helicopter quality has a broad overview of things, and this is more suited to a higher level post where a broad oversight is required.

Lets look at fresh grads beginning on the job. All civil servants (both psc and non scholars) start off at the same CEP. The CEP is reviewed every year during the annual ranking exercise by a board. The employee's direct superior gives the rank, and usually the chair of the board (perm sec/CO) wll approve without much contest, unless other members who have worked with the employee voice objections.

The max CEP an employee can receive is 3 grades above his current grade, the rationale being that it is not possible to judge CEP above 3 grades because of the lack of exposure adnd opportunities to situations that would allow such an assesment to be made. One cannot tell if a 2LT can handle the job of a LG unless he takes on a role that can highlight his abilities. This is the main reason why CEP is reviewed and adjusted yearly.

It is very rare for anyone to be given a CEP of 3 grades above his grade. The norm is one grade, with the better employees given a CEP of 2 grades above current grade.

To get promoted to the next level, the employee has to have a CEP equal or higher than that level, AND have a performance ranking of at least C+ for 3 consecutive years. (Don't be confused between CEP and Performance. CEP measures potential, Performance, well, performance). The possible grades for performance are A, B, C+, C ,D. There is a quota for performance grades and CEP grades (not more than 30% of those ranked can be given A and B grades, the next 50% are given C+, the bottom 20% are given C, and hardly anyone is given D, unless they really screwed up.) The quota allocation changes yearly, and is different for different ministries.

To reiterate, to get promoted to the next level, the employee has to have a CEP equal or higher than that level, AND have a performance ranking of at least C+ for 3 consecutive years. If you don't meet the performance criteria, you don't get promoted.

Of course, there are many cases of employees with a lower performance rank but a higher CEP being promoted above their colleagues.

The rationale for doing so can be best explained by the EPL and Div 1. The top scorer in Div 1, A, has played excellently, bagging 40 goals and helping his team get promoted to the EPL. Wayne Rooney is having a torrid season, scoring just 10 goals. The point is, Rooney will always be a better player than A, because he has greater skill/potential. A might be performing very well in Div 1, but when he plays in the EPL, he can't maintain his performance, because he is playing at a different level. He does not have what it takes to play at the highest level.

Likewsie, if a company or ministry promoted employees solely on performance, there will come a point where the employee simply cannot perform, because he is at a level that he cannot handle (or because he has a low helicopter rating).

To compensate, employees are given Merit Increments to their salaries based on their performance, and performance bonuses as well to recognize their excellent work. In fact, a hig performing employee at a lower grade can earn more than a poor performing employee at a higher grade.

The problem with the CEP system is that the direct supervisor is the only person evaluating the employee, and thus there might be biasdness or inaccuracy.

From mid-level to high-level positions however, the employees have to undergo psycometric tests, psychologists interviews, and a role playing exercise to evaluate their suitablility for higher positons. These quantitative tests will be added to the qualitative one used earlier.

Please note that I am not an ardent supporter of the CEP system. It has its flaws and is not perfect, but unless someone comes up with a better system for selecting talent, I don't see what choice we have.

I see 2 reasons why scholars achieve higher CEPs than non-scholars. First, they are brighter and hence perform better. Second, scholars are given more opportunities and a more developmental training. In the SAF and civil service, certain positions (called estabs) are reserved for scholars. These tend to be the more high profile posts like Branch Head, Deputy Director etc, which require more responsibility. The scholars are also attached to do projects, where they can showcase their skills and creativity. The scholars are thus given more exposure and opportunity to showcase themselves, and assuming they don't screw up, will naturally be given a higher CEP than the non-scholar, who has to be truly exceptional in the limited role he is given to be noticed. Note that I am comparing the paths of two fresh graduates, scholar and non-scholar respectively.

On a last note, having a first class honours degree does not guarantee a higher CEP. University performance only determines initial starting pay for fresh grads. An Oxbridge first class honours grad will have the same pay as a US Masters grad; an oxbridge second-upper will have the same pay as first-class honours grads from other universities. After a few years however, the differences become negligible.

First class honours grads tend to have higher CEPs simply because they are generally brighter, more motivated, more determined etc than the average grad, not because of an endemic systemic bias.

simplesandra said...

anon wrote: "I see 2 reasons why scholars achieve higher CEPs than non-scholars. First, they are brighter and hence perform better."

Sorry, but I beg to differ. This is only based on the assumption that academic excellence naturally translates into good work performance--which hasn't always been the case, notably in non-technical areas. If anything, my experience with scholars only left me with the impression that some lack the humility to learn and adapt to the working world. And yes, some talked like our infamous Ms Wee. :-)

anon wrote: "Second, scholars are given more opportunities and a more developmental training."

Even so, if a non-scholar has constantly performed well in his or her area of work and has the experience and potential, shouldn't they be given the same opportunities and training on merit then?

Which is why something like CEP hardly reflects meritocracy, but rather smacks of elitism.

ex civil servant said...

"anon wrote: "I see 2 reasons why scholars achieve higher CEPs than non-scholars. First, they are brighter and hence perform better."

A couple of problems with the above statement.

Firstly, performance has nothing to do with potential, which is what CEP measures. So even if it is true that "scholars perform better", this shouldn't translate into higher CEP.

But the bigger problem is this. CEP, as this Anon person has himself stated, is based on the following criteria:

political sensitivity, imagination,
sense of reality,
communication,
leadership,
teamwork,
respect accorded by peers,
ability to handle pressure, problem solving ability
helicopter vision

Alas ... how can it be that scholars beat non-scholars automatically on such criteria? Teamwork? Leadership? Imagination?

Use your common sense ..... A Wee Shu Min type would probably get a scholarship, but you can already see that if CEP was properly measured, she'd score very low for:

political sensitivity,
sense of reality,
leadership,
teamwork,
respect accorded by peers,

.... at least!

Anonymous said...

April 18, 2007 11:48 AM

The comment you have post is is a little confusing:

1. CEP is a measure of the employee's highest attainable rank/position(SAF/civil service) before retirement.

2.It is no more than 3 ranks above an employee's current rank and can be revised.

Point 1 implies that the CEP is determined for the entire career till retirement, so there is only one figure.

Point 2 contradicts point 1 in that the CEP is not determined beyond 3 ranks at a time, therefore the CEP at retirement will not be known until the employee has accumulated all his ranks from day one to retirement.

The one who left the comment might have confused CEP (potential) with the A to D ranking system (performance).

Anyway, I don't see why the government should be so secretive about the CEP. The only reason why I can think of for keeping it secret is to exploit people who might otherwise leave the service if they knew their CEP and dim career prospects.

Mr Wang Says So said...

It may well be the case that different ministries use slightly different versions of CEP.

Anonymous said...

139 comments later, I think that this topic has hit a nerve somewhere.

Anonymous said...

I wish this post was put up a year ago before I joined a stat board. I am just an ordinary degree holder, no big time scholars or from influential family. As a first timer into the public sector, I can only blame myself for not doing enough homework about the HR policies. I had assumed that HR department of a stat board would be transparent & thorough in explaining policies before I signed on the dotted line.

I only know got to know what division means at least 6mths into the job. I learnt about CEP from Mr Wang's post on 11 Jan 2007. I later realised that my entry rank is the same as colleagues at least 8 years younger than me despite my experience.

A colleague of mine, also a first timer into public sector, was put into Division III as her diploma from a reputable marketing institute was not recognised (mind you, this diploma allows her to gain entry to an Australian Univeristy). She is an experienced & efficient worker but unfortunately also learnt about the division bit around the same time as me.

We both approached the HR dept to seek clarification but were told they are not required to explain all & that we should learn about the policies along the way. What the f! Along the way? It would have been too late! It is such a feeling of being short changed!!

My role is to speak to private sector for collaborations & sponsorships (first time a dept of such is set up in this organisation). While doing this, I have realised that most of my colleagues are unable to deal with negotiations with outside parties. When faced with difficult questions from potential sponsors, emails are fwded to me with "How to answer them? Help!"

Most are well-equipped with paper qualifications but when it comes to practical experience in the real world, they are lost. I was in fact providing 'consultation' to one who is going on a scholarship for a Master course on taxpayers' money!!

2 days ago, a colleague was victimised & had to leave when contract expires. I am utterly demoralised by the whole system. Runners like me without further degrees will always be do-er while the ones with more degrees (some using taxpayers' money) will be sitting in their Ivory Towers enjoying fat pay.

It saddens me each day when I see resources could have been better used to help the poor people around me. I must say most of my colleagues come from pretty good background & will never understand what life is living in a 3-room flat! How can policies they come up with help these poor souls when they are out of touch with what's going on at the ground?

Sigh! Waiting for my day to exit the public sector, shouldn't be too far away.

Anonymous said...

Actually, given current and future global operating environments, the CEP is more of a liability than something that facilitates the selection of top talent.

The CEP is a tad to rigid because it assumes that talents identified (especially heavily based on paper academic qualitifications) are the best talents needed to compete in the global environment. But increasingly, we find that many of the top academic talents identified by our education system are evidently lacking in critical/creative thinking skills and life skills.

Promotion should be linked to performance. Education is but a means to an end. The test is whether it prepares the young for challenges in life. And it can be measured in terms of performance. Given the way our education is being structured, the CEP does nothing except promotes elitism among those who are fortunate enough to be streamed into the "right" path. In fact, it could even erode the so-called work ethics the government is so concerned about by affording a "safety net" to poor performers with high CEP.

Whether the government continues to use the system despite its irrelevance will give us a clue as to its priorities - to preserve the elite class and its interests or for the sake of all Singaporeans by dumping the system to open up opportunities in a free market where performance, not predestination, determines one's career prospects in the civil service.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, Mr Wang, how many years did you spend in the civil service before you left?

Jimmy Mun said...

From KTM's response, it is not hard to see the topic hit uncomfortably home for some members of the establishment. Having read what KTM wrote, I dont see how KTM can say Mr Wang is spouting nonsense, since they are basically describing two sides of the same coin: KTM is describing how the system is supposed to work in the ideal case, while Mr Wang is describing the system at it's worst. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.

Scholars were screened by the scholarship board. Who will dare say their judgement is wrong? OTOH, it is career-risking to overrate someone lacking in paper "justifications", without a committee like a scholarship board backing you up. Everybody will just end up playing safe, so the CEP may well be set in stone before day 1, even if the system allows for flexibility. Having worked for a President's scholar before, I am aware they have mentorship schemes with senior scholars, not to mention PAP tea parties. With such networking with higher ups, it is hard for a big time scholar to be missed on the radar.

For those not happy with the system, one should be reminded that we all had our shot at the same exams which allows the scholars to emerge, unlike in say, the British colonial days, when what you get to do depends largely on what your father was doing. One also should remember that outstanding performance at the low levels does not imply competence at higher levels. An outstanding Rambo-type may not be a good lieutenant, let alone a general. You want to adequately reward Rambo doing Rambo work, not promote him to incompetence. Furthermore, anybody who has worked for someone will agree that performance reviews are often biased towards the best boot lickers. A CEP system may actually help control corruption.

Ultimately, a super-performing Bill Gates/Sim Wong Hoo type will be wasted in the civil service. Even non-entrepreneurs like Sandy Weill (ex-Citigroup CEO) or Eric Schmidt (CEO Google) can be made billionaires just by collecting a salary. No government in the world can match that.

Despite how they sell it, governmental service, as a career, is for the mediocre and the uncompetitive types, those who just want a peaceful retirement. If you rate yourself above mediocre, then dont join the civil service, or aim to hop off at some GLC.

Anonymous said...

I think that KTM is talking rubbish. We don't know whether he is really a hawker or a AO. The fact that he did not reply here means that he is afraid of Mr Wang kicking his ass.

Besides, KTM can't deny that the scholars start off with a better CEP. Mr Wang should just go to his bogus post and kick his ass.

simplesandra said...

jimmy mun: "For those not happy with the system, one should be reminded that we all had our shot at the same exams which allows the scholars to emerge"

And yet, just because one refuses to fit into the system doesn't mean he is a zero when compared to another follows it without question.

jimmy mun wrote: "One also should remember that outstanding performance at the low levels does not imply competence at higher levels."

Then what do you make of scholars with poor performance even at low levels? How are you to draw a war plan if you can't understand the reality on the ground, and how various factors, human or otherwise, can affect those nice plans you've laid out on paper? Forget Rambo, that's Hollywood; old blood and guts didn't become a general just because he was some scholar.

And by the way, how naive of you to think that scholars don't do or need their fair share of bootlicking. Haven't been reading the papers lately, have you? :-)

Despite how they sell it, governmental service, as a career, is for the mediocre and the uncompetitive types, those who just want a peaceful retirement

You're not talking about the Scandinavian governments, are you? Here, mediocre? Someone just said we have to pay top money for these talents.... ;-)

Jimmy Mun said...

Simplesandra,

Undoubtedly, the art of licking boots is an essential survival tool even for scholars, but they can afford to be a bit more selective in whose boots they lick, unlike the farmers who have to lick every boot in sight just to "move on".

Knowing the reality on the ground is the job of the politicians, not the civil servants. Politicians are seen as dirty all around the world, but to thoroughly sterilise them the way PAP does is to neuter the government's ability to function properly.

simplesandra said...

jimmy mun: "Knowing the reality on the ground is the job of the politicians, not the civil servants."

True, but let's not forget that being uniquely Singaporean, most of the top civil servants here (and highflyers in govt-linked businesses) are scholars who go on to become MPs and ministers of the country.

Top civil servants here aren't just public administrators but to an extent, government officials in waiting. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, i am still in the civil service. To everyone who said that the civil service is trying to move away from this gradually, please inform the rest that by gradually, you mean proceeding at such a fast pace that twenty years down the road, the CEP system will be still very much recognisable as it is now.

Why do people want to leave the civil service when they are receiving fat pay checks? Because by doing simple jobs and getting paid so much, they fear (rightly), that the longer they stay, the less competent they become.

It is those incompetent people who wants to stay. Why not? When u do simple things and get highly paid?

Go figure it guys. The civil service will only become from bad to worst. Every competent guy wants to leave. The only reason holding them back is that they cannot break their bonds.

Get it? I tried to break my bond and am willing to pay the LD, but my application was rejected outright.

Lance said...

Well you can just resign right? Ain't no one who can stop you from doing that

Anonymous said...

Er, he can't cos he is bonded. lol.

No choice, wait till your bond finish lor if you are really that unhappy inside.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Wang has his points right through my observation. Was in Govt Stat board before and scholars seems to move up the ladder very quickly but those who are not scholars will be stagnent (even if they possess masters degree). If the CEP thingy is not true, how do you explain that?

As for KTM, you sure have some attitude problem. Keep questioning Mr.Wang's authority...what about yours? On what authority can you defend your counter claims? Don't start using the "authority" word if you don't have authority to use it, Ok?

Lance said...

A bond is a contract. you can just break it if you are willing to fork out the LD. they can't prevent you sort of chaining you physically to the chair. there is no job in the world which says u cannot leave just by walking out as a last resort. Well no legal job that is.

Anonymous said...

i am afraid that lance is overly optimistic. If u bonded to say a private company, u can just walk out no problems. Settle the money issue with money. But in the civil service, ur application is rejected outright. If u "just walk out", u will very quickly find yourself in jail.

Thus, a legal job in the government is exactly the same as an illegal job in the "private sector". Worst, because u will die much more frustrated.

Lance said...

Well I am not sure about that. I do know that for teaching you are allowed to resign immediately with payment of liquidated damages. It might be the same for the other ministries.