Yesterday PM Lee told Parliament:
The Minister is ultimately accountable for the policies and operations of his Ministry. But this does not mean that if a lapse occurs down the line, every level in the chain of command, up to and including the Minister should automatically be punished or removed. Based on the facts, we have to decide who fell short in performing his duties, and what is the appropriate disciplinary action for each officer involved. We also have to follow due process, giving officers the chance to defend themselves. Otherwise we will demoralise the organisation and discourage officers from taking initiatives (sic) or responsibility, for fear of being punished for making mistakes.
I said yesterday that if the logic goes that a Minister shold not be punished for a lapse that occurs down the line, then he will never get punished for anything, because everything the Minister “does” is actually done by his civil servants.
PM said that to punish the Minister would demoralise the organisation and discourage lower level staff from taking initiative or responsibility.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Instead, if everytime something goes wrong, and only the lower level staff get punished, that would do much greater damage to morale. Not only would staff not take initiative and responsibility, but they would ask themselves: “Why bother when I’m going to be made to take the whole rap if something goes wrong?”
This is very bad management style. The boss should always take responsibility, and the rap if necessary.
Then again, perhaps PM was referring to morale among the top level elite Administrative Officers and Ministers. That is probably his greatest concern. To heck with those losers with fewer than 4 As in their A levels.
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