Photo of Tan Chuan Jin with elderly from Facebook

Speaking at a government dialogue with social workers, Minister for Social and Family Affairs (MSF) Tan Chuan Jin told the social workers to “innovate” within the bureaucracy if their superiors do not listen.

The former army general who was a fast-track army scholar who soar through the ranks, was responding to a dialogue participant who said that their superiors are not open to new ideas. Minister Tan Chuan Jin said:

“If you have some level of autonomy, then whatever that sphere of influence may be, exercise the autonomy that you have and innovate within that space… Sometimes by doing, you demonstrate to your superiors that this (idea) makes sense, and when you get feedback from clients, it encourages the superiors and gives them confidence.”

Participants however remained unconvinced and another stood up questioning the Minister to explain in details how. Minister Tan Chuan Jin fumbled in his answer and said:

“Bureaucracy helps to create systems, which then make it easier for ideas to be replicated and scaled up…but too much of it is a problem. People could give feedback so the authorities can fine-tune processes.”

Although the number of social workers have increased in 2016, social workers complain that the government is still not doing enough. Director of the social work department at Touch Community Services, Julia Lee, said: “More support can be given to senior social workers in the area of leadership training and mentoring, to enable them to support junior ones.” Assistant director of Awwa Family Service Centre, Seetoh Huixia said: “We’ve come a long way, but social issues are becoming more complex. We need community partners to give support, in any shape or form.”