How political or apolitical is our Civil Service
We inherited the British system of govt where there is a separation of power between the judiciary, legislative and executive branches of the govt. The three are supposedly to function independent of each other. The assumption is that while the political leaders could change at every election, the judiciary and executive branch could continue to function without being embroiled in a political tussel for power and control. Somehow it works in the British system and to a certain extent even the American system. Our system is designed or copied to work the same. Our civil servants are apolitical in this sense, not part of a political party and will serve which ever party that comes to power in the electoral process. When Vivian Balakrishnan spoke to a university crowd of students, an innocent student popped out the innocent question of how political are our civil servants, are they able to continue to function when there is a change of govt? Vivian did not answer her question directly but gave the standard reply that no one can deny the party from picking the best talents for the job. The adult population will not ask such a question. They have a clear understanding of how our political system works. A student is still innocent and untainted in their views and idealism. They expect things to work the way it is said to work. Why should the students have such a notion and popped such a question? Are they seeing things in a different light? Our civil servants are completely neutral to party politics. The govt has made sure that they are not politicised. The People's Association and the PAP's kindergarten are also not political. They are there to serve the people in general, all, regardless of political affiliations. Our Civil Service is definitely apolitical in this sense. The fear in the student's mind is that should there be a change of govt like the tsunami in Malaysia, very unlikely to happen here, what would happen to the civil servants? Would they resign en bloc or be asked to leave by the new leadership? Or would they go on strike or mount a revolt? Whatever, it means that the country will be disrupted. These are just suppositions. The talents in the Civil Service are indispensable to the smooth functioning of the country and any new political party coming to power is likely to keep the Civil Service intact. And the civil servants only need to pledge loyalty to a new govt and continue as per normal. It is good for students to raise such idealistic questions. Idealism is only for the youth. The pragmatism of the adult world does not have room for youthful idealism. Anything goes for one's personnel benefits and interests. Most adults will be asking what is in it for me instead?