Singapore top civil servant publicly upbraided for culinary course in France

It was with both bemusement and exasperation when I read about the episode of a top Singapore civil servant being upbraided publicly by a minister.


As far as I can recall  public admonishment of a top civil servant is a rarity.


The civil servant in question undertook a culinary course at the famed Le Cordon Bleu at great personal expense, and his experience was published in the local papers.


The minister tagged it as “insensitive” and “discordant” given the financial hardship people are confronting now. The head of the civil service would write to the civil servant and put it down on record.


My first reaction to this expression of outrage was What an overreaction!


Some quarters betrayed  their envy and pettiness by commenting on how rich he must be if he could afford to bring his whole family to France.


As far as I am concerned how he chooses to spend his money is his own personal business. In fact, I admire him for doing something different instead of going on, for instance, on a European holiday.


An inconsequential matter blown out of all proportions by the minister really.




5 Responses to “Singapore top civil servant publicly upbraided for culinary course in France”

  1. I must disagree. A ‘civil servant’ describes aptly what the officer is, one who directly or indirectly serves the people. The action is inconsistent with the image of the Singapore Civil Service and the officer should not have announced his rather morbid attempt to showcase his wealth and stature to the world.

    It is like the MP who drives her Rolls Royce for Meet The People’s Sessions. A jarring note indeed.

    It’s more common sense isn’t it? He doesn’t seem to have much, considering his position.

  2. I see your point there. However, there’s nothing to suggest that there was anything improper. Seems an in house publication highlighted the case and the local papers picked up the story. He could have gone on a European tour or bought another car and nobody would have raised any eyebrows. Unless taxpayers’ money was involved then it’s a different story altogether but since it’s his own money I personally don’t see what’s the fuss all about. Typical of the civil service to overreact. Remember the table-tennis saga at the Olympics? Another overreaction. Moral of the story?

  3. Moral of the story? Don’t rock the boat, especially your own. Go places and do exotic stuff but no need to tell lah!

    Nobody loves a show-off!

    Depends how you translate ‘taxpayer’s money’. People are probably mad because civil servants are paid with taxpayer’s money.

  4. Being a top civil servant I am very sure everything was above board. If not the repercussions would have been nothing short of a disaster for him.

    The authorities must be careful not to overreact as they typically are wont to.

    In the Olympics table tennis saga the Chinese head coach was publicly upbraided, a knee-jerk reaction. He lost face and that in Chinese culture is a serious thing. I knew he would find an excuse to quit and he did, citing the revised salary as not commensurate with his stature.

    When he left only two persons saw him off at the airport. After coaching the team to win a silver medal after almost 40 years is that how you treat your head coach? Cover your backsides first, shoot first, show that you’re tough sheriff.

    Frankly, I feel ashamed at such shabby treatment. The govt talk about social graces, compassion etc but it’s all lip service.

    If the person at the centre of the storm, the permanent secretary, were to find an excuse to quit I wouldn’t be surprised.

    In Singapore, covering your own backsides takes precedence over all else.

  5. This case is different. It wasn’t his problem actually but the people who administered. It was sad to see the way the poor coach was treated. And to have sent him home without some fanfare or simple goodbyes. And he earned so little.

    Our man at Le Cordon Bleu was in a different category. How much does a Perm Sec earn? You cannot compare these two cases.

    Sad to see the coach leave; he needs the job. Won’t be sad to see the other chap leave.

    I must be bias.

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