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Thread: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

  1. #1
    vince123123
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    Default Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Interesting read from Mr Wang's blog at http://mrwangsaysso.blogspot.com/200...t-to-join.html

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    Recently I said that I would change the focus of my blog. I had planned to make it more practical and useful for the average Singaporean, taking into consideration the prevailing social trends, government policies etc in this country.

    Well, here goes. Today we look at HR policies in the civil service. There are certain things you ought to know, before you decide to join or not to join the civil service.

    ST April 14, 2007
    Promotion in Civil Service based on merit

    I REFER to the letter, 'Is promotion in Civil Service based on tenure?' (ST, April 11), by Ms Elsie Tan Hwee Lian.

    To be promoted, a civil servant has to show potential to handle a bigger job. A person with a high potential can expect to progress more quickly, provided he is also a consistently good performer.

    An officer who does not show the potential to take on greater responsibilities will not be promoted, even if he has many years of service. Promotion is based on merit and not automatic, according to his years of service.

    Ms Tan also noted that there are officers who continue to perform the same job after promotion. Unlike the private sector, civil servants are paid according to their salary grade and not by job appointment.

    It is not unusual to have officers doing higher-level jobs while still in a lower grade. This is to stretch and test them. They will be promoted to the grade commensurate with the job size only when they are able to handle the higher job competently.

    All Civil Service salary schemes have a performance-bonus component. Those who do well will be paid performance bonuses, with the better ones getting a higher quantum. Those who just meet the job requirements or under-perform will not get any performance bonus.

    Most of our graduate schemes have a variable merit-increment system, where the annual increments are linked to performance.

    In short, the appraisal system ensures that officers receive salaries that are commensurate with their contributions, abilities and potential.

    Ong Toon Hui (Ms)
    Director, Leadership Development
    Public Service Division
    Prime Minister's Office
    This letter is well-written. It is a very careful, very deliberate gloss, over actual reality. Nothing that the letter says is actually untrue. Yet the overall picture that the letter does paint is quite misleading.

    To understand how the system works, you first have to understand that performance and potential mean two completely different things in the civil service. They lead to very different, very distinct consequences in the official appraisal system.

    For example, a civil servant may be judged to have very high potential, even though his performance is very poor. Alternatively, his performance may be judged to be utterly outstanding, and yet his potential may be judged to be extremely low.

    Performance is linked to your annual bonuses and increments. Whereas potential is linked to your promotions. So Ms Ong Toon Hui is correct to say that those who perform well in their jobs will get bigger bonuses.

    What Ms Ong isn't telling you is that those who perform well in their jobs may never get promoted. That's because promotions depend on your potential, and potential has nothing to do with performance.

    Okay, then. How is a person's potential assessed or measured? It is measured by your CEP score. "CEP" stands for Current Estimated Potential. Theoretically, CEP measures the level of certain inherent, long-term qualities in each employee.

    What this means is that once you have been assigned your CEP score, the civil service is probably not going to change that score (at least for the next seven or eight years, if ever). After all, CEP is a measure of certain inherent, long-term qualities in you - which cannot change.

    Now, the civil service will assign you a CEP score, on your first day of work. Actually, that is untrue - your CEP score is assigned to you, even before you start work. Thus you can see that in terms of actual work, nothing that you actually do (whether it is utterly brilliant, or utterly dumb) can actually affect your CEP score.

    The civil service generally does not tell individual employees what their CEP score is. (If such disclosures were made, no doubt some people would resign in double quick time. Then who would be left to do the donkey work?)

    CEP scores depend largely on your educational qualifications (one or two ministries will also consider other things - for example, the Defence Ministry would consider your OCS performance) . There is a pecking order. PSC Scholars automatically get an extremely high CEP score, even before they start work. Non-scholars with a basic degree, no honours, go to the bottom of the pecking order.

    I hope that by now, the implications are becomng clear.

    If you do badly in school, and then you join the civil service, you will have a low CEP score. Even if you subsequently produce the most utterly outstanding performance year after year after year, you will still get promoted very slowly, if at all.

    That's because your potential has been assessed to be low, and CEP is a measure of your inherent, long-term qualities which can't change.

    In contrast, suppose a PSC scholar performs quite badly year after year after year. He will not get good bonuses, because bonuses are linked to performance. However, since his CEP score is high, he will still get promoted year after year after year. That's because CEP is a measure of his inherent, long-term qualities which can't change.

    Thus how much career success you can achieve in the civil service, by the age of 45 or 50, has already been determined. It was determined when you were 22 or 24 years, at the time you first joined the civil service, on your very first day at work. Sorry, before your first day at work.

    Below is an excerpt from an essay written by a US military officer, who had spent some time studying the Singapore Armed Forces. This part of his essay focuses on how SAF scholars and non-scholars are promoted differently. Note that the Government of Singapore uses essentially the same appraisal system for all government ministries (including the Ministry of Defence). So the excerpt below gives you a good idea of how the entire civil service, in general, operates:


    "After being awarded a scholarship, scholar officers are commissioned four months ahead of their peers amd miss the second half of their professional military training during OCS. Although they make up some of this training during their academic summers, they are still very inexperienced compared to their peers who have spent four years in operational service.

    Despite this vast difference in experience, scholar officers still will be promoted to captain one year after graduation at approximately the same time as their nonscholar peers. This program results in scholar officers being promoted far faster than their nonscholarship peers, despite the fact that they have considerably less operational experience.

    .... The SAF uses a system in which officers have a currently estimated potential to determine how far an officer can go and terminal rank during his or her career. For the most part, this CEP is formed during OCS based on the officer's cadet performance and educational background ....

    An officer's CEP spells out his or her career path for assignments, education opportunities, promotion and attendance at military schools. The result of this system is that officers are selected and groomed for even the most senior leadership positions in the SAF based on little more than on how they performed as a cadet during OCS and the strength of their high school transcript."

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    i like the kway teow conversations.. hahahah
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    So your performance is not linked to your contributions?

    Vince - do you work in the civil service? Does this Mr Wang of yours work in the civil service? Or simply just armchair critics/ disgruntled people sitting on one side just whacking? I'll just wait for the civil servants to come in.

    Btw - about the scholar issue, perhaps it is blind pragmatism, but when one has invested a huge amount of money in an asset (i.e. the person, or the scholar in question), I guess it is only natural to want to maximise your money's worth/potential by giving the asset a thorough workout/tryout unless proven wrong.

    Just think about it - just for theoretical discussion, in photographic terms,

    You pay big money for DSLR A, it is publicised very well on paper, loads of reviews give it the thumbs up. Your friend gives you DSLR B for your birthday. It is an unheard of brand, it has never been used before by any good review site, heck, this is the first time you have seen what it looks like.

    Which would you use FIRST? DSLR A or B?

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Scholar = Potential... nuff said.

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    So your performance is not linked to your contributions?

    Vince - do you work in the civil service? Does this Mr Wang of yours work in the civil service? Or simply just armchair critics/ disgruntled people sitting on one side just whacking? I'll just wait for the civil servants to come in.

    Btw - about the scholar issue, perhaps it is blind pragmatism, but when one has invested a huge amount of money in an asset (i.e. the person, or the scholar in question), I guess it is only natural to want to maximise your money's worth/potential by giving the asset a thorough workout/tryout unless proven wrong.

    Just think about it - just for theoretical discussion, in photographic terms,

    You pay big money for DSLR A, it is publicised very well on paper, loads of reviews give it the thumbs up. Your friend gives you DSLR B for your birthday. It is an unheard of brand, it has never been used before by any good review site, heck, this is the first time you have seen what it looks like.

    Which would you use FIRST? DSLR A or B?
    B: I value friendship over $$ I will sell off my cam A (which I really did)

    have you been spying on me?!
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  6. #6
    vince123123
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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    I'm just highlighting something written on another blog - something that is done on many occassions in this Kopitiam forum. I'm not too sure why someone has to be a civil servant or not to be a civil servant in order to write an article on his/her views.

    On my end, I don't think that Mr Wang is a civil servant, although I cannot verify this information. Perhaps if you are that interested in qualifications and not the substance of the article, you can check out his blog for more clues.

    In specific reference to your analogy, grnated that someone may pick DSLR A to begin with. However what if DSLR A consistently cocks up? Are you still going to continue to use it (ie more promotions?). After you had the chance to use DSLR B, and it works good, are you going to junk it one side (ie no promotions)?

    To link your example back to the topic, lets say we have a Nikon D2x (DSLRA) and XYZ brand D100 equivalent. We can clearly see who has more potential (D2x and who has better brand - your analogy). However, if your D2x keeps screwing up your shot, bad image, file corrupt etc, yes it has greater potential (more MP, faster frame rate etc), will you still keep using it? Or will you use the XYZ brand D100, which may have less potential, but CONSISTENTLY gives good results, within its capability. In fact, over time, XYZ brand D100 may even give you overall better satisfaction.


    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    So your performance is not linked to your contributions?

    Vince - do you work in the civil service? Does this Mr Wang of yours work in the civil service? Or simply just armchair critics/ disgruntled people sitting on one side just whacking? I'll just wait for the civil servants to come in.

    Btw - about the scholar issue, perhaps it is blind pragmatism, but when one has invested a huge amount of money in an asset (i.e. the person, or the scholar in question), I guess it is only natural to want to maximise your money's worth/potential by giving the asset a thorough workout/tryout unless proven wrong.

    Just think about it - just for theoretical discussion, in photographic terms,

    You pay big money for DSLR A, it is publicised very well on paper, loads of reviews give it the thumbs up. Your friend gives you DSLR B for your birthday. It is an unheard of brand, it has never been used before by any good review site, heck, this is the first time you have seen what it looks like.

    Which would you use FIRST? DSLR A or B?

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123 View Post
    On my end, I don't think that Mr Wang is a civil servant, although I cannot verify this information. Perhaps if you are that interested in qualifications and not the substance of the article, you can check out his blog for more clues.

    .
    Mr. Wang is not a civil servant but a banker. Read his blog last night!

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    used to be a DPP from what KTM says and he didn't deny.
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  9. #9

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by vince123123 View Post
    I'm just highlighting something written on another blog - something that is done on many occassions in this Kopitiam forum. I'm not too sure why someone has to be a civil servant or not to be a civil servant in order to write an article on his/her views.

    On my end, I don't think that Mr Wang is a civil servant, although I cannot verify this information. Perhaps if you are that interested in qualifications and not the substance of the article, you can check out his blog for more clues.
    The reasoning is because I'm pretty sure it doesn't just work that way. It is definitely not all that efficient to be with. And what is Singapore known for? Efficiency. You are right in that one does not have to be a civil servant in order to write stuff on the civil service - but whether it is accurate or not, whether it is a first hand source does make a big difference. Hope you get what I mean.
    In specific reference to your analogy, grnated that someone may pick DSLR A to begin with. However what if DSLR A consistently cocks up? Are you still going to continue to use it (ie more promotions?). After you had the chance to use DSLR B, and it works good, are you going to junk it one side (ie no promotions)?

    To link your example back to the topic, lets say we have a Nikon D2x (DSLRA) and XYZ brand D100 equivalent. We can clearly see who has more potential (D2x and who has better brand - your analogy). However, if your D2x keeps screwing up your shot, bad image, file corrupt etc, yes it has greater potential (more MP, faster frame rate etc), will you still keep using it? Or will you use the XYZ brand D100, which may have less potential, but CONSISTENTLY gives good results, within its capability. In fact, over time, XYZ brand D100 may even give you overall better satisfaction.
    Hey, I'm just talking about the initial stage. We all have seen how the favoured can fall from grace, if someone has limited capability and somehow got through the scholarship interviews with hot air - you bet it'd be exposed in a short period in time. Unless they have any special capabilities, if boss says NO, higher boss says NO, how they get promoted? Unless you're talking about.. Compulsory promotions, which is another thing altogether.

    I will definitely favour DSLR B over DSLR A in the long term if your above scenario is true. But hey, note that I was just providing a pragmatic reason as to why the above policy may be in use.

    Simply put - if you have good cards in the first few rounds of poker, and the later deals are not at all impressive, you'd definitely pull out. I don't think anyone would be brave enough to just ride it through and do an all-in. =)

  10. #10

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by yanyewkay View Post
    B: I value friendship over $$ I will sell off my cam A (which I really did)

    have you been spying on me?!


    And what is Cam B? What is Cam A for you?

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    hmmmm.... potential
    so do the government employ clairvoyance?
    Last edited by zcf; 17th April 2007 at 03:40 PM.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    I have no idea if Mr. Wang's assertion has any merit or not, particualrily regarding the importance of education (how well one did in school and where one graduated), but my experience in Singapore does support his assertion.

    Two examples come to my mind immediately.

    For one at work. I needed to hire an assistant and to promote my current assistant. I wanted to to promote my current assistant becasue of the quality of the work she did and I have bigger respossibility I want to give her. She is all ready for it, and as a matter of fact, been assuming the responsibility prior to the promotion process. I also need to replace her after she is promoted.

    THe Human "Resistant" Department at work immediately gind everything to a complete halt. They stopped the promotion because she does not have the "right" degree. They stopped the hire of the replacement because she does not have the right diploma. Long story short, both are qualified, both from performances. The promotion is based on my first hand expereince with her performance, the new hire on recommendation from a trusted friend.

    I got both the promotion and hired done, but with lots of carnage along the way, and spent significant political capital. However, I feel this is the rigth thing to do, and to hell with the local attitude of backward looking/thinking.

    The second example was much more personal. I was introduce to a person who is looking for someone to fill a role that I might be interested in. An information interview was arranged. During the first 5 minutes, all this person wants to know was what degree I have and where I got them from. I replied why not start from where I went to kindergarden. At the end of the day, 20+ years of expereinces is not as important as what I studied in school? Sounds familiar?
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Education:

    The other day someone brought up the idea that education was not all about papers. It should never be. Even if one has the paper that says he passed this exam or not.. In the end education comes to what one has LEARNT and whether that person can use what he has LEARNT to THINK, i.e. application.

    But DP, think about it, you KNOW the person. Your HR department doesn't. Neither does every single employer in the market. What do they have to base it on? Therein lies the power of the boss to do what he thinks he is right. And well, if the boss is wrong, then that's life. In short.

    Which is why Singapore needs its papers. It is the most.. I hesitate to say "accurate", because it isn't.. concrete? way of proving that one has been capable of thinking.

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post


    And what is Cam B? What is Cam A for you?
    dunch tell you
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  15. #15

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by yanyewkay View Post
    dunch tell you
    Cheyyyy. I bet Cam A is Vistaquest, Cam B is Mark II..

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    Cheyyyy. I bet Cam A is Vistaquest, Cam B is Mark II..
    no idea what those are.. brand A says 555, brand B says HaiChiu.... same?
    “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.” - Adolf Hitler

  17. #17

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Alamak, my Chief of Army told me... CEP will change one...

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    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by yanyewkay View Post
    B: I value friendship over $$ I will sell off my cam A (which I really did)

    have you been spying on me?!
    oh what a pity ... pity pity pity ... pity pity pity pity pity pity ... ... ...

  19. #19

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by drakon09 View Post
    Alamak, my Chief of Army told me... CEP will change one...
    But on Internet hor, people will choose to believe Mr Wang or Mr Ah Kow or Mr Ah Beng..

    No one will listen to your poor CoA in real life!

  20. #20

    Default Re: Mr Wang Says So - To Join or Not to Join

    Quote Originally Posted by eikin View Post
    oh what a pity ... pity pity pity ... pity pity pity pity pity pity ... ... ...
    ...I thought I was seow, this is quite seow, so I must show off the seow power..

    Pity yes! Pity pity pity pretty pretty!

    CHIO BU!

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