Public Administration Singapore-style: Volume 19


Table of contents

(22 chapters)
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List of Tables

Pages vii-x
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Pages xiii-xv
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Jon S.T. Quah, Ph.D., was professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and co-editor of the Asian Journal of Political Science until his retirement in June 2007 after 35 years of service. Now he is a consultant on anti-corruption strategies, civil service reform, and policy analysis in Asian countries. He was Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS (July 1990–June 1991), Head of the Department of Political Science (1992–1998), and Coordinator of the European Studies Program (1990–1998). His visiting appointments include: the East-West Center in Honolulu; the Harvard-Yenching Institute and Harvard Institute of International Development; the Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California at Berkeley; the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies and the Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University; and the National Center for Development Studies, Australian National University. He has published widely on anti-corruption strategies and civil service reform in Asian countries, and on public administration in Singapore. He is the author of Curbing Corruption in Asia: A Comparative Study of Six Countries (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003) and Combating Corruption Singapore-Style: Lessons for Other Asian Countries (Baltimore: School of Law, University of Maryland, 2007). Details of his other publications are available from


Pages xix-xxiii
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My interest in public administration as a discipline was sparked by Dr Joseph P.L. Jiang, who was a student of the late Professor Fred W. Riggs at Indiana University, in 1968 when I took his course in public administration during my final year at the Department of Political Science, University of Singapore. I also remember fondly my first meeting with Professor Riggs during the same year when he gave a guest lecture in Dr Jiang's course (Quah, 2008d). I met Fred again many years later at various international conferences but I remember fondly our meetings in Chiangmai in June 1993 and in Honolulu in June 1996. I have also remained in touch with Dr Jiang after his return to Taipei.

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In 1983, Charles T. Goodsell reviewed the depictions of bureaucracy in popular culture and academic writing in the United States and concluded that bureaucracy was viewed as “a hate object.” He wrote:Bureaucracy, then, is despised and disparaged. It is attacked in the press, popular magazines, and best sellers. It is denounced by the political right and left. It is assaulted by molders of culture and professors of academia. It is castigated by economists, sociologists, policy analysts, political scientists, organization theorists, and social psychologists. It is charged with a wide array of crimes, which we have grouped under failure to perform; abuse of political power; and repression of employees, clients, and people in general. In short, bureaucracy stands as a splendid hate object. (Goodsell, 1983, p. 11)

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In 1947, John Merriman Gaus contended that “the study of public administration must include its ecology” (Gaus, 1947, p. 6). He elaborated on the importance of the ecological approach in public administration thus:An ecological approach to public administration builds, then, quite literally from the ground up; from the elements of a place – soils, climate, location, for example – to the people who live there – their numbers and ages and knowledge, and the ways of physical and social technology by which from the place and in relationships with one another, they get their living. It is within this setting that their instruments and practices of public housekeeping should be studied so that they may better understand what they are doing, and appraise reasonably how they are doing it. (Gaus, 1947, pp. 8–9)

The origins of the SCS can be traced to the civil service established by the English East India Company (EIC) in 1786, when the EIC began its operations in Malaya with the acquisition of Penang as a settlement from the Sultan of Kedah (Tilman, 1964, p. 40; Jones, 1953, p. 7). The EIC used the term “civil service” to distinguish its civilian employees from those working in the military, maritime, and ecclesiastical organizations. There were three types of civil servants then: those who were covenanted, i.e., occupying senior positions requiring a bond of 500 British pounds as security to ensure the performance of their duties; those who were uncovenanted; and extra-covenanted officers who were granted covenants locally because of their exceptional administrative capabilities (Blunt, 1937, pp. 1–2).

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A statutory board is one of the three forms of public enterprise in Singapore which are involved directly or indirectly in economic development. Tan Chwee Huat has defined a statutory board as “an autonomous government agency set up by special legislation to perform specific functions (Tan, 1974, p. 102).” Similarly, Lee Boon Hiok has referred to statutory boards as “a catchall phrase for the statutory bodies which have been established by an Act of Parliament,” which specifies their rationale as well as their rights and powers (Lee, 1975, pp. 38–39).

The origins of the PSC in Singapore can be traced to the White Paper (Command Paper no. 197) entitled Organization of the Colonial Service issued by the British government in 1946.2 Command Paper No. 197 stressed that progress toward self-government could only be achieved if the public services of the colonies were adapted to local conditions and staffed to the maximum possible extent by local people. More importantly, it recommended the establishment of PSCs in the colonies to ensure that qualified local candidates would be recruited into the public services.

Compensation refers to “all forms of financial returns and tangible services and benefits employees receive as part of an employment relationship” (Milkovich & Newman, 1999, p. 6). A more specific definition is provided by Edwin B. Flippo, who has defined compensation as “the adequate and equitable remuneration of personnel for their contribution to organization objectives.” He identifies its three components as: basic wage or salary (to attract qualified candidates); variable compensation (to motivate job performance); and supplementary fringe benefits (to retain talented staff) (Flippo, 1984, p. 281). Table 6.1 identifies the functions of these three components of compensation.

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In his pioneering book, Gerald E. Caiden defined administrative reform as “the artificial inducement of administrative transformation against resistance” (Caiden, 1969, p. 1). Caiden's definition has three implications: (1) administrative reform is artificially stimulated by man and is not accidental, automatic, or natural; (2) administrative reform is a transformatory process; and (3) resistance is a concomitant of the process of administrative reform (Dey, 1971, p. 560).

PS21 is the most comprehensive administrative reform to be introduced in Singapore as it is “an extension of existing schemes and campaigns” such as Work Improvement Teams (WITs), Suggestions, Service Improvement, Staff Welfare, Organizational Review, Public Contact Improvement, Courtesy, Healthy Lifestyle, Zero Manpower Growth, Productivity, and so on (Prime Minister's Office, 1995, p. 2).

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Corruption has been defined in different ways by various scholars and organizations according to cultural, legal, or other factors (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2008, p. 22). The word “corruption” is derived from the Latin word corruptus and, according to the dictionary, it has six possible meanings: dishonesty for personal gain; depravity; undesirable change; corrupting of something; altered word or phrase; or rotting.1 However, the most useful typology of contemporary social science definitions of corruption is Arnold J. Heidenheimer's typology of three major types of definitions (Heidenheimer, 1970, pp. 4–6).

However, after Singapore's independence and separation from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, the PAP leaders were forced to change their vision of Singapore as part of Malaysia to Singapore as an independent nation, which they had earlier rejected. In other words, the PAP leaders had to “reinvent” Singapore to ensure its survival.

The World Bank relies on six indicators to assess the level of governance in 212 countries from 1996 to 2008. However, for this chapter, only two indicators – government effectiveness and control of corruption – are discussed here as they are more relevant than the other four indicators of voice and accountability, political stability, regulatory quality, and rule of law. “Government effectiveness” refers to:the quality of public service provision, the quality of the bureaucracy, the competence of civil servants, the independence of the civil service from political pressures, and the credibility of the government's commitment to policies. (Kaufmann et al., 2004, p. 3)


Pages 279-298
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Subject Index

Pages 303-311
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Publication date
Book series
Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
Book series ISSN