Monday, October 31, 2011

Selecting Good People

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.


  1. Talking about good people. Today our PM just talked so much about the importance of a competitive workforce but he must have conveniently forgotten the fact that our Ministers aren't that too competitive especially the father & son team.

    What really make him think he is more than fit to talk about some foreign airline company is really a puzzle to me.

    Remember some SIA union leader in our own airlines was stripped of his PR status just because his father was forced to negotiate with the union ? Maybe he should have also advised the Qantas airlines to retaliate just like any gangster bully if they can't win their opponent's faith.

    People say one should take a hard look at oneselves first before they talk cock, otherwise they may just look like a fool.

  2. I do not understand what PM Lee said there should be discussions and not criticisms in parliament. Is criticism part of the discussion? If something goes wrong, how could one discuss the issue without point out it is a bad or wrong thing done?

  3. PM Lee is talking cock again. I find what he said unpalatable. We need a more competitive and more competent government.

  4. hey is that Warren Fernandez in the report the former States Times woof woof?

  5. PM said MPs must contribute ideas that are good for citizen. Looking at the less than half filled parliament, I wonder what have our MPs done for the people? Is parliament session important? Most feels that the lack of discipline is disappointing.

  6. The CEP system was first introduced in the SAF (and then Civil Service) by Lim Siong Guan, as it provided an "impartial and scientific" basis to justify Lee Hsien Loong's meteoric rise through the ranks. Of course, they also included a few lucky ones in his cohort to rise with him so that he is not obviously the "chosen one". LKY was so impressed and grateful to Lim that he subsequently made him Head of the Civil Service.

    The CEP system has now been badly abused in the SAF and Civil Service. Cronies and brown-nosers are promoted instead of being based on merit. That's why the people in the ivory tower are so removed from reality as no one wants to be bearer of bad news as this will "spoil" their career path.

    It has also promoted so many "chiefs" (Directors and above) in the Civil Service (thanks to the Admin Service) that they have now more "chiefs" than "Indians", and are now wondering how to slow down this promotion rate. (There's the key reason behind the SAF's introduction of the Senior Colonel create more ranks for people.)

    The CEP is a good HR idea, but sadly abused and grossly mismanaged in the Singapore system. It's time for a re-look.

  7. Correction above: Senior Lieutenant-Colonel rank

  8. Would like to share a story about the busy ant and the busy bee.

    Both bees and ants are very busy insects, working for dawn to dusk each day. However, ant felt that bees' diligent is over-glorified and his own hard work under-appreciated. One day, the ant ask the bee why are bees regarded higher than the ant.

    The bee simply replied : the difference is the bees are busy so that they could the serve the people while the ants are busy in order to serve themselves.

    Then the ant understood. When can the PM and ministers understand that they need to serve the people and not themselves before they could earn the people's respect !

  9. Between money and respect,

    the choice has been made.

    It is as clear as day.

  10. Between Ant & Bee, there's been a mis-paradigm misfed for far too long.

    The Bees are to serve the people. But the Ants are to serve the Country.
    CSM said in his FB - chinese 同舟共济 equivalent to "Fellow-Ship"
    But in recent years, it feels more like Titanic where the upper deck elites get to their safe boats/landing prior to everyone else below deck.
    Why else do you think MM LKY cockily said "He can punch his weight above the world?". Well, he forgotten from whence he came. HE stood on the shoulders of 1-2m singaporeans (some still selling tissues, cardboards & dying in JB) to be where he is today. Singaporeans have forgotten how to give a punch as good as they receive.

    Anyway, since they have CART for entry, wonder if they have WHEEL for exit? Looks more like many have been cart-wheeled to GLC cushy jobs on permanent pension.

  11. I have had the chance to watch some parliament speeches.
    Interestingly Josephine Teo said ever since GE 2011, there has been 3 types of people

    1) Transactional
    2) Accusatory
    3) Either...Or types

    On one hand I empathize with the customer facing staff of our Civil Servants; On the other hand, a part of me feels that it was probably their own doing after all these years. She is right to be concerned, but funny enough it's only been 6 mths and they're feeling the heat from people. If only she knew how long the people have been feeling from the government past 6 years or more. Take it as your rites of passage MIW, until the new normal settled in and down.


    A blast from the past..A reality check is to see their wisdom on hindsight.

  13. The high ministers' salary is in fact a form of corruption which has been cleverly legalized. If ministers' salary has to be approved by the parliament, and the parliament is dominated by a party led by the salary increase proposer, and also the domination of parliament is through gerrymandering and other undemocratic means, it proves that there is no way the people can oppose or disapprove this salary increase proposal. So, if this is not corruption, what is it? It is in fact a highest form of corruption - power corruption. Now, there starts to show sign of fraud in this extremely high salary argument.

  14. Me says they can have all the money they want, morally gotten or otherwise, so long as the people are not made to slave for them(the rulers).
    And no citizen be left to suffer lack of medicare, meal and shelter. Elderly Singaporeans do not have to work till they drop.


  15. So there was a happiness index before - They were only for the Ministers!

  16. Recently PM Lee said "from Void Deck to Nobel Prize Lab."
    Read this, then tell me if we as a nation practices this.
    From Parliament to Education to Corporate Entreprenuer.

    Politics is a serious business? Seriously, do they get it?
    Or have they taken themselves so seriously that their dignity are tied to the size of their salary and bonuses, instead of solving problems creatively with/for the people.

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