Things we should all know – that the Civil Service is independent of any political party

I got some interesting SMSes from friends about a whole lot of misconception about how the country works.

First, no matter who wins the election and forms the government, the underlying commonality is that the Singapore Civil Service will continue to function. They are the glue that keeps the machinery of government going while the top brass get replaced/renewed. If there was no Civil Service, yes, we will have a problem.

The fact that the Civil Service exists means the following:

a) The Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Singapore Armed Forces will continue to function.

b) The Monetary Authority of Singapore, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Maritime Port Authority, Health Sciences Authority, Land Transport Authority all function.

I can go on and list all the agencies but you get the point.

Changes in the civilian leadership does not mean that these entities stop.

Here’s the SMS I received:

From a friend who lived in Mountbatten. And a very highly educated one. Singaporeans are just so stupid…… Was discussing with colleague who lives nearby. She’s worried if Jeanette wins the police and other services will slacken, then our estate property prices will fall. Sigh … Singaporeans are so brainwashed into equating PAP with civil service!

So, whoever gets to walk into Parliament after all the votes are cast and counted on May 7th, the system will continue to function. Just because there are fewer numbers of PAP MPs in the new parliament does not mean that the country will fall apart. If that was the case, we have been shortchanged. It will be like a cancer cell. A cancer cell that infects other good cells.  I don’t think the PAP is a cancer cell that the failure of a PAP candidate to win a seat would mean bringing down the system.

Singaporeans have not seen how we can all make this country better.  Too many of us have been deprived of an opportunity to decide on our collective futures. This 2011 election changes that.

Mind you, there will be the usual “freak election” sky-is-falling shrills from the PAP. Just shunt that out.


  1. a ‘learned’ buddy posed me the same question. specifically he was referring to the town councils and our peers who are the managers. i replied life goes on.

    unless you are one of those beholden to their political masters for their very office, then you either face up to the new political reality or you move on/out.

    i referred him to the BBC satire Yes Prime/Minister for a light-hearted introduction to this civil service system we have inherited from the British.

    in the plausible/probable event that the PAP should not be returned to govern, the civil service, i agree, largely remains intact. the big change will be in the quango(es), a term i much prefer to ‘GLCs’.

    rest assured heads will then roll at the state media company (yes singular, not plural); shameless little enterprises that now proclaim themselves largest bank, largest property developer … in the region when they’ve had public assets slipped into their balance sheets under the radar. and of course not forgetting that grand lady of the mother-of-all funds.

    in the 1980’s Francis Seow wrote a little poem entitled “Without You”. very apt.

      • ya la i already help what!
        right @ beginning i told my buddy this

        no la kidding of course 😉

        pls remove this last post. only meant for your reading pleasure

  2. […] that accompany change, by Dharma Sadasivan – life one degree north, one-o-three degrees east: Things we should all know – that the Civil Service is independent of any political party – Singapore Short Stories: Why PAP faces the hottest election battle in years? – Singapore Short […]

  3. Yes, the Civil Service should be able to hold up the sky on 8 May 2011, whatever freak results there would be the night before. It has happened in change-of-govts in England, Australia and New Zealand, and our civil service should also be running as normal under a new govt. But then again, your Mounbatten friend is not far wrong about the conditions that would change somewhat if Opposition wins there; Potong Pasir and Hougang have for the longest time been at the end of a long upgrading queue, thanks to a foot-dragging HDB who is directly controlled by PAP Minister Mah, of Ministry of National Development. So even if the Police, Civil Defense, NEA foggers, SMRT all continue to run in Mountbatten on 9 May despite the Opposition unseating PAP there, HDB resale prices/conditions would surely be shaken around a bit. A small price to pay for a little democracy, right, if you asked people frrom Hougang and Potong Pasir?

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