People who had a recent opportunity to attend a SHELL recruitment interview will be familiar with the CART system which they are assessed against: Capacity, Achievement, Relation skills and Technical skills. MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Lee Kuan Yew says the Singapore civil service adopted Shell's human resource methodology to select people based on HAIR qualities - their helicopter ability, their power of analysis, their sense of imagination and their sense of reality.
Nobody in their right minds will dispute his comment that the Shell criteria makes a lot of sense, and that there are a lot of good civil servants in the system. But who are the ones who actually get promoted?
The helicopter ability - we assume this refers to the vision to see the forest instead of the trees, and not the helicopter hop into parliament via the GRC system - was evidently not demonstrated in the Orchard Road floods situation. The brown liquids swirling about Starbucks were not from their coffee machines. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Was it analysis that led to the housing shortage, and congested public transportation system? Academics clamouring for access to the raw data are eager to run them through their own set of computations, and see whether the computer should be blamed. As we know, drug offence incidences can be on the rise or ebb, depending on the number crunching system opted for.
Imaginative powers, coupled with euphoria from being cocooned in the ivory towers, can be pretty deceiving. Problem is, the Swiss standard of living imagined by some may not be translated easily to those at the bottom of the food chain. Especially those collecting used cardboard for subsistence. For them, a million dollar salary or $150,000 allowance can only be a figment of imagination.
And what's more unreal than the level of compensation accorded to some civil servants? Observing the recent parliament in session, one notes some of the performances by the MPs, those who bothered to show up at all, are downright surreal. Said PM Lee: "This is not just a show, it's not just theatre." Prove it.