During COS debates last week, Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin said more could be done for the working poor, while Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) said he was concerned that the public service may lack a heart in its pursuit of efficiency.

Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) made a similar point that public servants can guard their turf too jealously to the detriment of Singaporeans.

Recent cases in the news seem reiterate this point further.

Changi General Hospital had to apologise for using a debt collector to get a patient to settle his outstanding medical bills, even though the latter had made repayment arrangements with one of its employees earlier.

The flub happened because the staff member neglected to inform the hospital’s billing office the patient had agreed to pay his unpaid bill of S$37 during his next visit to the hospital.

SPF too was in the limelight, for putting on cuffs and leg restraints on a weak 76-year-old woman with medical conditions, when they found out about the warrant of arrest for her.

Public officers work tirelessly to serve and care deeply about helping those in need.

All the talk about Singapore being a SMART city but can we also aspire to be a wise city?

Can the government work towards more compassionate communications?

Can the bosses and supervisors empower their staff to exercise discretion so that they do not passively accept and follow the book, but instead, think on their feet, listen to their hearts and feel for others, like normal humans do.

Can the public, be less critical of public servants? So what if they are paid using taxpayers money, no system is perfect and the public service constantly strives to do better.

Our public officers do not seek praise but when was the last time you gave them a little encouragement for their work and their time?

If we don’t want our country to collapse into distrust and contempt, we need to go back to talking to each other as human beings again instead of talking at each other as symbols of issues.

Below is a poem by an unknown contributor in 1960 in a Civil Service Newsletter.

Thou, who seest all things below
Grant that Thy servants may go slow
That they may study to comply
With regulations till they die

Teach us O Lord to reverence
Committees more than common sense
Impress our minds to make no plan
But pass the baby when we can
And when the Tempter seems to give
Us feelings of initiative
Or when alone we go too far,
Chastise us with a Circular.

‘Mid war and tumult, fire and storms
Strengthen us we pray with forms
Thus will Thy servants ever be
A flock of perfect sheep for Thee.

~ By unknown contributor in 1960 in a Civil Service newsletter