Former senior civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow cautioned the Singapore Government about keeping well-educated Singaporeans only within the public sector instead of spreading them out to the various segments of society:

“If you just keep them within the Government, in the long run, (they) become an elite, become fossilised”

Photo from DBS
Photo from DBS

In the public forum at the DBS Asian Insights Conference held on Friday (July 10), Ngiam Tong Dow, who is now serving as an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, also said in a response to a floor question that young civil servants should be trained at understanding ground-level problems first before being parachuted to becoming a regulator:

“When a young scholar comes back, he should not be sent to the Ministry of Finance’s Treasury division and become the regulator. He should really be sent to the Economic Development Board (EDB), or the Housing and Development Board, and serve an internship of a year to learn the problems of the ground.

Unless the civil servant knows the problems on the ground, he would become just a regulator. And regulators, there are too many (of them) in Singapore”

Ngiam Tong Dow’s response was well-received by the attendees who are mainly private investors, top management executives and government leaders.