Samoa’s Public Service understudies Singapore’s impressive success

PHOTO: The Deputy Director for Technical Cooperation at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Alice Cheng addressing the CEOs as the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission Mose Aiono Sua pay close attention

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 12 MARCH 2019: The Chief Executive Officers of Government Ministries and Corporations have been urged to think outside the box and not limit their roles to their job descriptions but to be creative and do more.

Speaking at the opening of the Singapore Cooperation Program (SCP) with the Samoa Public Service Commission today, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi pointed out reasons why the public servants especially those in the decision making positions should act quickly on decisions they know are worth exploring.

“Delaying a decision is delaying the development of a nation,” said Tuilaepa and pointed out the lack of capacity building and skills in the public servants which leads to the delay of projects.

He said this is the weakness that the public servants must overcome for their services to be improved.

He referred to a visit by the Pacific leaders to Singapore where they learnt of the country’s development success.

“Underpinning Singapore’s impressive success is a very capable public service,” said Tuilaepa.

The Government of Singapore is running the three day in-country course on Human Resources Development for the Samoan senior executives.

The training aims at giving the participants an insight into Singapore’s experience in developing and sustaining a first class public service.

“Without doubt, it will provide important pointers to help us within the context of our own circumstances, to make changes to the delivery of service, and the responses of the Government to meet the needs of our people,” said Tuilaepa.

He emphasise in particular the importance in this regard of the adequate capacity of the Government agencies, and the importance of timeliness in good public service.

He also made reference to a past project about to be executed, only to realise that they forgot to measure the width of the road.

“Such mistakes led to families moving their fences close to the road or Government measuring beyond family lands,” said Tuilaepa.

Another example was the Adverse Possession Law which was abolished in 2012.

“The Attorney General then and lawyers knew about this law, but did not do anything until 3 women came to me for help because the squatters on their land have taken it by force after a court case, and after that, that law was abolished,” said Tuilaepa.

He challenge the senior public servants attending that if they know that something needs to change for the better, then do it rather than waiting.

The CEOs of government ministries and senior public servants attending the three day training

The training is run by the Deputy Director for Technical Cooperation Directorate at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore, Alice Cheng who leads a team of trainees.

Cheng said SCP was established in 1992 and have served 170 countries. The benefits from this technical assistance, reflects their deep seated belief that people are the future assets in any country.

“By developing a country’s’ human resource, especially the small island states, the returns to our countries development is immeasurable,” said Cheng.

As small island states, we face common challenges, limited resources, lack of economy or skills and heavily depend on international investments.

“Another dilemma is our small populations, which means that we typically have a limited talent pool to attract and recruit the public sector. A competent responsive and forward thinking public servant plays a critical role in helping a nation develop,” said Cheng.

She said that from an organisational perspective, we want the best and the brightest to be in the public service, but from a national perspective the public servants cannot pull up all the talents from the private sector either.

She said the three days training will cover all that need to be covered such as Policy Practices, Human Resources Management, How to Recruit and other development areas.