Photo of PAP MP Louis Ng (left) and Minister Ong Ye Kung (right) from Today

PAP MP Louis Ng was publicly scolded by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament yesterday (Mar 1) for “sweeping unfair generalisations to civil servants”.

Ironically, PAP MP Louis Ng said in his speech that public servants has provided feedback to him that they are being forced to be “yes-men” or be penalised for speaking up against government policies:

“The public servants I had spoken to shared their fear of being labelled as troublemakers or ruining their appraisals or promotions if they spoke up against the Government’s policies. These public servants also questioned the point of sharing their thoughts, and claimed that nothing would come of airing their candid views. Our public servants are good people … But we now need to make sure that they don’t work in a system where they feel they need to be silent, where they feel they need to be ‘Yes’ men or women and where they feel that nothing will change even if they speak up.”

The PAP MP was hammered by PAP Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said the MP has “undermined” improvement efforts and that public officers must place absolute trust in the PAP leaders for any government policy:

“The public service and the elected leaders enjoy mutual trust and respect from years of working together… Public officers know that national policies are developed in the long term interest of Singapore and Singaporeans. Ministers have confidence that when they set the policy direction, or make a policy speech, the public service will back them up with diligent implementation… Where the public service has fallen short, it will address the problem. But when generalisations that tar the entire service with the same brush are made in public, and worse, further spread through the media, it does not do justice to our officers, it discourages and undermines improvement efforts.”

Minister Ong Ye Kung told the PAP MP that he must deny the concerns of the public officers who told him otherwise:

“If some civil servants tell you they dare not speak up, you can assure them that from your own experience, you have always spoken up and have never gotten into trouble. If it is a philosophical shift in government policy like selling land to pay for healthcare costs, then you have to explain to them this is not the policy of this current Government.”

Like a good dog, PAP MP Louis Ng responded:

“I thank the Minister and I would be more careful about the generalisation of public officers in future.”

PAP MP Louis Ng and Minister Ong Ye Kung were both from the same batch of General Election 2015, but the latter is a favourite of the Prime Minister. Ong Ye Kung is one of the potential PM candidates alongside Heng Swee Keat and Chan Chun Sing.