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How real-time data can help you think differently (p.14)


Meet the Transformers who make good ideas work (p.5)

GOOD? Social innovation explained, and THE SIGNIFICANCE OF cross-sector collaboration (p.8)



The challenge for social innovation is cross-sector collaboration


Meet the transformers

Officers who have the urge to solve problems


Find out what LIVE Singapore!, an open platform of real-time data could do for you

where to find talent

Relook and rehaul systems that are keeping talent out, says Malcolm Gladwell


All Aboard the Public Engagement Train

The key is to connect and build relationships

38 like clockwork

Final instalment of the Unsung Heroes series: L Magaeish Sri from ACRA


reliving the past

Challenge remembers war heroes this Total Defence Day


Your views on the Nov/Dec issue of Challenge


03 Your Say Engaging the public overrated or necessary Readers share their views

18 Thinking Aloud Look at what’s working, instead of what’s not

You’ll be more joyful, says Vadivu Govind


Letters to a Young Public Officer be liked and be rewarded

Former Prisons Director Chua Chin Kiat offers tips on becoming more likeable


A Cuppa With… “Don’t forget the people”

HDB CEO Cheong Koon Hean shares her plans for public housing


Perspectives No Hell’s kitchen, this

Challenge trails two officers who are serving up Singapore’s next batch of hospitality professionals



Januar y/Febr

uary 2012


is the art of jotting down your thoughts in words or doodles in the unmarked spaces of your books. It’s a useful tool to crystallise your thoughts, or a way of personalising your book.

pages of tips to get you ahead

PAPER-FREE Tips for e-reading.

• Get f ree e-books at Project Gutenberg (




14 real-time, real-data = Real good policies?


• Clean your e-reader with dampened spectacle cleaning cloths and lens cleaning solution, then dry with soft lintf ree cloth.


Love a story so much you write your own take? That’s fan f iction. A Study in Emerald Mixing Sherlock Holmes and The Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, this novella by graphic novel author Neil Gaiman (of The Sandman) is not to be missed.


39 level up Where do you sit in your ‘career‘ car?

Research and writing by Abigail Kang Edited by Bridgette See Designed and illustrated by Yip Siew Fei & Ng Shiwei ©Challenge Magazine


Download at:

The Demon’s Lexicon Sarah Rees Brennan was wildly popular in the Harry Potter fandom before getting a book contract. Her first novel The Demon’s Lexicon was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal literary award.

DID YOU KNOW? Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice has famously banned all fan fiction based on her works, citing copyright issues.

19-26 We love words and we want to share the love. Here’s a smorgasbord of literary offerings that will help you literarily impress the boss and co-workers.


If creased book spines give you the heebie-jeebies, follow these tips. 1 Place the book with its spine on a table.

To deal with gobbledegook:



Let the front cover down.

The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers


You know who you are: the guilty ones who butcher the English language in vain attempts to impress the boss. Learn to write clearly and concisely with this book.


Then the back cover.


To add intrigue to your job: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett


Then open a few leaves in front.

A skilled con artist, saved from the gallows, ends up as the Postmaster of the rundown Postal Service. Dealing with bureaucracy isn’t the hard part, escaping an assassin is…

To impress people:


The Lazy Intellectual by Richard Wallace

Then a few at the back, alternating front and back,

6 Gently pressing them down until the center is reached. Confession: We don’t know the original source of this illustration that we found on the Internet. If you do, drop us an email!

With 10 chapters of facts covering philosophy to math, you’ll know enough of everything to be the most knowledgeable person in the office.

To deal with writer’s block: The Write Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer

Chock-full of creative exercises, this will get you off the block and writing.

Knowing this could move your career up a notch, says Michael Podolinsky


lifestyle 19 44

The Challenge PullOut WORD! 8 pages of tips to get ahead

The Irreverent Last Page The civil servant’s prayer A tongue-in-cheek poem written in 1960 is still relevant today

44 44


STAY INSPIRED, STAY CREATIVE, KEEP GIVING BACK Happy 2012! It ’s been exactly three years since I wrote my first Editor’s Note back in Jan 2009, and once again, I find myself back in Houston, this time to visit my new nephew. Something inexplicably special happens when you behold and hold your sibling’s child – affection surges from unknown depths and suddenly, I can speak baby language on cue. Fascinating, for someone who’s not exactly baby-crazy. And like Jan 2009, as with every year, this issue of Challenge returns once again to our roots – innovation – but this time from the social perspective. We’ve often talked about being inventive but what exactly is social innovation? Our cover story explores more, and finds out why there is vast untapped potential in the space between governments, businesses and non-profits, and how sparks can fly when all three collaborate to find solutions. To me, social innovation is about putting our creativity into meeting social needs – and, if you ask me, that ’s the essence of what we do as a Public Service. This issue, we have a solid lineup of amazing men and women who have made a real difference because of their passion and ingenuity. Read about how our Civil Defence colleagues turned ordinary fire-fighting engines into transformer machines that can conquer floods and fire alike in Meet The Transformers, and find out what drives our former master urban planner and now head of HDB, Dr Cheong Koon Hean, in her current quest to provide homes for the majority of us in A Cuppa With…. Chua Chin Kiat shares his experiences behind the Yellow Ribbon project in Letters To A Young Public Off icer. I’m particularly excited too by the LIVE Singapore! project – using technology to generate realtime data that has the potential to move Singapore up a notch as an urban city that can respond to itself faster, and hopefully enable its dwellers to make better, more earth-friendly decisions. And we caught up with Malcolm Gladwell when he was in town – don’t let anybody tell you, you’re not good enough, or smart enough – you just might have that “with-itness” that ’s all it takes to get the job done right.

Don’t let anybody tell you, you’re not good enough, or smart enough

We hope you’ll be inspired by all these stories, ‘cos we are. So, stay inspired, stay creative, keep giving back! Have an adventurous, unconventional and immensely fulfilling 2012! With love from all of us at Challenge.




PS21 Office, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office

100 High Street, #07-01 The Treasury Singapore 179434 Email : Web :

For enquiries or feedback on Challenge, please write to the Challenge Editorial Team at Editorial Advisor

Agnes Kwek Editor

Tay Li Shing



I always look forward to reading Challenge, the articles are

well-crafted and the layout is simply food for the eyes!

Keep up the good work.

W hat will it take f or us to mar r y Singapor e? PLUS Do your part to save the Earth: Eat insects | Why saying ‘Sorr y’ is so tough

Joanna Hor MinLaw

Assistant Editors

Shaun Khiu & Christopher Teo Editorial Assistant

Eric Loy

Tuber Productions Pte Ltd

298 River Valley Road Level 2 Singapore 238339 Tel : 6836-4030 Fax : 6836-4029 Email : Web :

Management Director

Lee Han Shih

Managing Director

Weiling Wong Project Director

Liew Wei Ping


Contributing Editor

Bridgette See

Editorial Consultant

Koh Buck Song Staff Writer

Chen Jingting Interns

Abigail Kang, Nazurah Sa’ad & Nur’Ain Zainuddin Contributors

Richard Hartung, Hong Xinyi, Ryandall Lim & Siti Maziah Masramli


Creative Director

The 8 pages of tips to get smarter in life are interesting! It may keep the participants

I enjoy the packaging and stories in Challenge. Eugene Leong MND

occupied during their meal time when attending courses in CSC.

Cool to have Challenge magazine available at CSC!

Alicia Lai CSC

Pretty fresh! Right up there with the ‘it’ mags!

Keep churning out the fun stuff!

Tan Wearn Haw

I loved the piece on the lovable city, and it’s very

relevant to the work of the civil service.

Maybe you guys could introduce a recurring section that gives readers a few simple tips on how to reduce our carbon footprint (like stop eating meat ).

Kassandra Lee MinLaw

CEO, Singapore Sailing Federation


Art Director

Yip Siew Fei

Graphic Designers

Cindy Anggono & Ng Shi Wei Production Manager

Nurul Malik

Staff Photog rapher

Farhan Darma

Cont ributing Photog raphers

John Heng ( Norman Ng ( Challenge is published bimonthly by Tuber Productions Pte Ltd (Registration No: 200703697K) for PS21 Office, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office. Copyright of the materials contained in this magazine belongs to PS21 Office. Nothing in here shall be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent of PS21 Office. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of PS21 Office or Tuber Productions Pte Ltd and no liabilities shall be attached there to. All rights reserved. All information correct at time of printing. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (Registration No: 197801823M) 57 Loyang Drive Singapore 508968

If you were to live 2012 like your last year, what would be the TOP FIVE things you’d do? Tell us what you think! Email us:

$100! $30

The best entry will win an attractive prize worth up to All other each. Please include published entries will win shopping vouchers worth your name, agency email address, agency and contact number. All entries should reach us by January 27, 2012.

Your Say03

Engaging the


Overrated or Necessary We asked readers for their views.

Yes, it is of utmost importance to understand the perspectives and concerns of the very people whom we are making policies and services for. We could establish rapport with the public, discuss issues through the engagement process. This would allow both the public and Public Service to better understand the micro and macro situations from various perspectives. If the public is engaged during policy and service design, we could develop more holistic and timely policies while securing buy-in at the same time. Singapore is the joint responsibility of all Singaporeans, not just the Public Service. Therefore, everyone should contribute positive and helpful suggestions to building our home. Having said these, the process of policies and services design might be more tedious and a longer time required. Congratulations Wen Hwee! Thank you for sharing your heartfelt views with us. We’ve got a festive hamper worth $100 that’s on the way to you!

Liew Wen Hwee NEA

Engaging the public is at the heart of the Public Ser vice. Remove this function and the entire spirit of the Public Service crumbles. The interaction and proximit y with the public (whilst not always smooth-sailing) makes your work real and gives it true social value. We should move away from asking questions like “should we listen/engage?” to “ how should we listen/engage?”.

It may not be necessary to have public consultation for all types of policies. Perhaps we should define what should go for public consultation. However, a faster and effective way is really for a public servant to empathise and think like a citizen or user when developing a policy or service. We could gather feedback from our staff first as they represent the public as well.

Dawn Lum

Chong Lai Fun



Editor ’s Note: Our officers had a lot to say about this issue as we received 78 long and well-thought-out replies. Many feel that public engagement can be tough, but is necessary. In fact, Gayle Goh wrote a 1,000-word letter that we think would be a shame to summarise, so we’re publishing her letter in full at Challenge Online ( Do log on for more exclusive online content too.

Five and a half years ago I published an article on my personal blog. The article took issue with remarks made by then-2PS (MFA) Mr. Bilahari Kausikan... The content of my opinions isn’t the issue here... what sticks out at me is not the fact that I wrote about a senior civil servant. It is the fact that he wrote back... I was 17 years old, and I had been engaged...



Gayle Goh NEA

Treating public consultation as an SOP won’t work. Who would understand consultation papers written in government language posted on websites? If we treat this seriously, we would get down to the target audience’s level and devise engagement exercises they can relate to.

Cynthia Lee Poh Lian MCYS

Honestly, I feel it isn’t necessary to involve public in getting feedback on policies. As the management would have already done some collation of statistics before implementing the policies, it will be a further waste of precious time and resources in getting public responses. Getting public response doesn’t necessarily equate to more effective policies.


June Zhou CPFB

The end result defines the action that has to be taken and the amount of effort placed to improve or introduce a policy. Is the policy for the public? Then it makes sense that the public be involved. Ultimately it’s the people affected by the policy who are always in the best position to give the unseen perspective. To develop an effective policy, the dollars need to be spent in the form of time and resources. There are no short cuts to any good policy, failing which, it becomes a futile exercise.

V. Alagesan

Legal Aid Bureau

04 Highlights


Coming up...

from the

SERVICE TINTIN STAMPS ON DISPLAY The Adventures Of T intin exhibition opened at the Singapore Philatelic M u s e u m o n November 5, 2011. It celebrates the works of Hergé (Tintin’s creator), explores the influences in his work and career, and traces 50th Anniversary of Tintin, Belgium, 1979. Stamp image reproduced the development with permission from Singapore Philatelic Museum on behalf of bpost of characters in the (Belgium Post), Singapore Philatelic Museum Collection comic series. The exhibition features the full range of Tintin postage stamps issued by Belgium, France and the Netherlands, from the permanent collection of the Singapore Philatelic Museum. On display for the first time here are rarely-seen original stamp artworks, colour trials and other philatelic materials from the Museum Voor Communicatie in the Netherlands and L’Adresse Musée de La Poste in France. Exhibition ends May 31, 2012.

Brought to you by the Strategic Finance Transformation Office, MOF

SHARPEN YOUR BUDGET MARKSMANSHIP It’s that time of the year again when there are reminders to spend 95 per cent of your budget. The Ministry of Finance (MOF) asks ministries to achieve this utilisation rate to encourage good budget marksmanship. Still confused? Too much jargon? Simply put, we should ask for what we can realistically spend in a financial year. The $500,000 here or $1m there that is unused could have been allocated for another important project like a new road, school or park connector. So, we should try to budget accurately and spend prudently. If it looks unlikely that the budget will be used, inform the Finance department early so that the budget can be re-deployed, rather than spend it for the sake of hitting 95 per cent. After all, we are taxpayers too and expect that our tax dollars go to good use! To learn more, join us on Cube.

ART GETS CENTRESTAGE Catch Art Stage Singapore 2012 from January 1215 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center. With a strong focus on high quality Asian art, the event will showcase the best in Asian creativity along with celebrated pieces from global art superstars. The Project Stage will showcase works from emerging regional artists, ranging from performance to sculpture.

AIRSHOW 2012 FLIES INTO TOWN Asia’s largest aerospace and defence show, the biennial Singapore Airshow is back from February 14-19 at the Changi Exhibition Centre. Highlights include the Land Defence Pavilion, Unmanned Systems Showcase, the Green Pavilion and two high-level strategic conferences. An exciting lineup of aerobatic displays will thrill visitors daily.

SHARE THE LOVE Chingay Parade 2012 (Feb 3 and 4) promises to thrill and bedazzle with its theme of “Love, Care, Kindness Ever ywhere” as the parade marks its 40th anniversary. Usher in the year of the Dragon with local and international dragon per formances, multicultural shows featuring Indian, Malay and Chinese dances, as well as international performers from China, Egypt, Japan and Taiwan. Tickets from SISTIC.


meet the


They see problems and they have an inexorable urge to solve them – creatively. Each year, the Public Service gives kudos to off icers who transform their good ideas into great action, at the annual ExCEL Convention. We meet two teams that won Gold Awards for Best PS21 Projects. Te x t by

Nazurah Sa’ad

P h o to s o f S C D F by

John Heng

Multi-taskers to the Rescue It was at a monthly operations meeting in February 2010 when four Civil Defence officers from different divisions shared the problems they had encountered on the ground. They wanted to enhance SCDF’s water rescue capacity during flood rescues and show how fire-fighters could tap large amounts of water to put out large-scale vegetation fires and industrial blazes. The four men (below) knew a solution was needed, but there was no luxury of money to build specialised vehicles for each problem. They had to find creative ways to deal with floods, vegetation fires or warehouse blazes with limited resources. Team leader LTC Tan encouraged everyone to “look beyond typical fire engines… and instead take a look outside and watch movies to get ideas”. They did just that. Inspired by the movie Transformers, they spent a month toying with the idea of “transforming” vehicles before agreeing on what they wanted. The result: the Multi-Utility Vehicle or MUV, a four-wheel drive truck with a crane and hydraulic tailgate that can load up and switch between three operational modules onto its chassis. The Flood Response Module has an amphibious vehicle, water rescue items and two boats that can carry up to

six persons each. The Water Supply Module has hoses that can lay up to four kilometres, while floating pumps allow it to tap open sources like the sea, river or reservoirs. The Vegetation Fire Module has two water tanks with 3,000-litre capacity each and two pumps that can generate water jets to extinguish deep-seated vegetation fires. It was not easy coming up with the MUV as “one of the challenges was to convince the senior management to approve this idea” shared LTC Tan. The bosses had to be convinced that “the MUV need not be as fast as the fire engine” as it takes time to change between modules. With limited budget for specialised vehicles, the MUV was their best bet. The team also had to think about how operations would be carried out. Who should operate the MUVs? And where should they be based? But the key lesson for LTC Tan was learning how to back up good ideas. “Many officers don’t dare to go beyond their boundaries. I strongly believe that if you want to do certain things like selling your idea to senior management, you need to be bold enough to put that idea out front and not do it blindly, but to really gather a lot of facts, research and feedback,” he said. By being creative and tenacious, the team was able to push their best ideas forward and transform their vision into reality.

Fighting fire smartly: The team that dreamed up the Multi-Utility Vehicle. From left: LTA Leonard Lee, MAJ Chew Keng Tok, LTC Alvin Tan and MAJ Khaizal Khalid.

Mangrove Rescuers Pulau Tekong is home to the largest patch of mangrove in Singapore. It is also where many rare species of flora and fauna – absent in mangrove on the mainland – are found. But in 2006, the National Parks Board (NParks) found that heavy boat traffic and strong waves were toppling mangrove trees along the island’s northeastern coast. The 92 hectares of pristine mangrove were being rapidly eroded at one hectare a year. This prompted NParks to set up a multi-agency team (inc luding the Housing and Development Board and the Ministry of Defence, among others) to rescue the mangrove. From the outset, hard engineering methods such as building seawalls that merely deflect the waves elsewhere were a no-no. “It would’ve made a mockery of our duty if we did something that’s environmentally damaging, therefore [the] key thing that we stuck to was that [the solution] must be environmentally sustainable and it must minimise the impact to the environment,” said team leader Dr Lena Chan, Deputy Director of the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) which comes under NParks.


But while the team fretted over various aspects of the project like the health of the saplings or pull of the tides, they worried less about failure. “People are so afraid of failure. There is so much fear, so they go for the easy conventional methods,” said Dr Chan. By rejecting convention, the team knew they had to invest more time on trials and take on more risks. This was encouraged by a culture of “flexibility and forgiveness”.

Taking root: There are already positive signs that the mangrove rehabilitation is working well, with natural propagation of mangrove plants amid the rock revertment. Photo from National Biodiversity Centre

Initially, the team thought they could backfill the eroded shoreline with mud and plant mangroves on top. They took a scientific approach and experimented before calling for a tender. But the trial that consisted of planting mangrove in biodegradable bags on mud failed. “The consultants were very nervous,” recounted Ms Yang Shufen, Head of Park Planning at the NBC. “There was an email saying ‘Oh my goodness, the bags spilled’. They sent us photos of mud spilling out from the bags.” The periodic strong winds in the area had ripped the plants apart, forcing the team to rethink their approach.

Ms Yang recalled how a local company that produces biodegradable planter bags was tasked to make bags that would degrade in four months so the mangrove saplings’ growth would not be inhibited. This led to the invention of bags that degraded according to clients’ specifications. Such innovations, she pointed out, have the potential to be marketed locally and globally.

“It’s the willingness to speak up and go back to my bosses and say ‘it failed’,” said Ms Yang. “You must be comfortable to feel that if your little experiment failed, you won’t be ‘killed’. If a trial fails, it’s a good thing because you will learn.” After nearly a year, there are positive signs, such as the natural propagation of mangrove plants amidst the revertment. But the team says it is too soon to call it a success as a much longer period of monitoring is required. But if successful, this innovative Singaporean method of rescuing mangroves could well become the gold standard globally.

The team openly admits that their plans were never set in stone. “When building with nature, it is dynamic. Yo u h a v e t o do some small exper imentation on a pilot plot, refine it, and then do it again and so on,” said Mr Lim Liang Jim, Assistant Director (Coastal and Marine Environment) at NBC.

It would’ve made a mockery of our duty if we did something that’s environmentally damaging.

In the end, they decided to combine soft and hard engineering by building a rock revertment and growing mangrove in between the gaps. Biodegradable planter rings would protect the saplings till they were stronger while bakau poles were placed in front of the revertment to deflect strong waves.

The ambitious rehabilitation plan was a first in the world. No one had any prior experience so everyone, including contractors and consultants, had to innovate and adjust plans as they learnt more about the environment they operated in.

So, before starting on the official 1.9km shoreline rehabilitation, the understandably nervous consultants suggested trying out a 50m pilot site first. It was half successful – with some plants dying. The team quickly studied the mangrove species that thrived (they planted 14 types) and tweaked their plans quickly to boost survival rates. They were learning at every turn.

Saving mangroves creatively: The National Biodiversity Centre team that led the multi-agency mangrove rescue mission. From top: Dr Lena Chan, Yang Shufen, Linda Goh and Lim Jiang Jim.


Cover Story09

ing for

Singapore hasn’t just been busy attracting business entrepreneurs, but is also gaining a reputation as an attractive place to incubate social innovation. Now, the challenge is to get social innovators from the public, private and people sectors to break out of their silos – or boxes – to collaborate. Te x t by Richard Hartung I l l u s t ra t i o n s by Ng Shi Wei

Social innovation can be in... In many c o u n t r i e s, intractable problems like high unemployment, income inequality, lowquality education and homelessness clearly require urgent attention. In Singapore, while social problems have not escalated to such critical levels, issues ranging from education and public transport to healthcare and housing are vital concerns too. At home and abroad, social innovation is gaining prominence as a means to devise new solutions for crucial social issues.

What is social innovation

The Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University describes social innovation as “the process of inventing, securing support for, and implementing novel solutions to social needs and problems”. James Phills and his coauthors add in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that the solut i on s h o u l d b e “m o re e f fective, efficient, sustainable, or just (equitable) than existing solutions.” Who drives social innovation is changing, and there is far more collaboration than before. “In the past, governments were often pioneers of social innovation,” UK-based NESTA CEO Geoff Mulgan and his two co-authors wrote in the Open Book of Social Innovation. “The great municipal reforms of the 19th century created a new social infrastructure, as did the welfare reforms of the late 19th and 20th centuries.” Now, governments are working with both businesses and non-profits to develop solutions. As the Center for Social Innovation in Canada said on its website, social innovation “can take place in the for-profit, non-profit and

public sectors. Increasingly, they are happening in the spaces between these three sectors as perspectives collide to spark new ways of thinking.”

Entrepreneurship and innovation – not quite the same thing

While social innovation and social entrepreneurship are often talked about as the same thing, they are actually different. It is important to make a distinction, as entrepreneurship can happen without innovation. As business guru Peter Drucker said, an entrepreneur “always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity.” While innovation may drive some of those opportunities, entrepreneurs can achieve business or social goals by setting up businesses like re s t a u r a n t s or schools without being truly innovative. Social innov a t i on go e s beyond entrepreneurship t o c re a t e t r u l y novel solutions to social problems. As Singapore’s Social Enterprise Association executive director Teo Mee Hong said about social innovation here, “we seem to have been pragmatic” more than innovative in setting up social enterprises, so social entrepreneurs may have focused more on goals like creating jobs or helping the marginalised than on innovation.

The rise of social innovation

The Open Book authors say the main reason social innovation is taking off is that “existing structures and policies have found it impossible to crack some of the most pressing issues of our times – such as climate change, the worldwide epidemic of chronic disease, and widening inequality.”






As a result, there has been a “flowering of social innovation” – of varying levels of response from the public, private and people sectors to bring change in more innovative ways. So while governments came up with ideas on their own in the past, there are increasingly good ideas emerging from the non-profit and business sectors. If the public sector were to take on these good ideas and implement them on a government-wide scale, the impact would be far greater than a non-profit or company alone.

Cover Story11



When the powers combine: The capacity to collaborate will be the key differentiator around the world.

Also, according to The Economist, more countries are embracing social innovation because they believe it will “do more than save a few dollars” and can “transform the way public services are provided, by tapping the ingenuity of people in the private sector, especially social entrepreneurs.” This does not mean that social innovation works for every issue. Mr Mulgan told Challenge that while social innovation can be used “across a very wide range of fields – health, education, welfare, even transport – where the barriers to entry aren’t that high and where there’s a lot of expertise outside government,” social innovation tends to exclude territory with large capital costs like defence or big infrastructure or the “ones very close to national security.”

Social innovation

While Singapore seems to be doing relatively well in terms of economic growth, this doesn’t mean there is no room for social innovation. The reality is that critical issues remain. Passionate discussions about how best to teach students, provide healthcare for the increasingly ageing population, resolve a growing income gap and enhance transportation point to the need for greater social innovation. For example, instead of simply cutting through the Bukit Brown Cemetery to build a road to ease traffic congestion,

could more innovative solutions have emerged from crowdsourcing ideas from the people and private sectors? In the early days of nation-building, the government was often the driver for social innovation. Groundbreaking concepts like the Central Provident Fund, Housing and Development Board estates and Electronic Road Pricing were designed to solve the critical social issues of the day. While social innovation may not be as large-scale today, it is still happening all around Singapore. The brains behind Marina Barrage, for example, turned part of the seawater port area into a freshwater reservoir and recreation site. (See sidebar for examples) However, in contrast to some countries where government, businesses and nonprofits are collaborating far more than before, different sectors here often seem to come up with solutions on their own to solve focused problems rather than leveraging tri-sector collaboration for social innovation. In education, for example, the Lien C e n t re f o r S o c i a l I n n o v a t i o n a t Singapore Management University (SMU) was set up to “inspire ideas and innovations, foster new alliances and facilitate solutions to strengthen the non-profit sector” to help resolve unmet social needs.” Other tertiary

Northlight School was set up in 2007 to help students who failed the Primary School Leaving Exam twice by giving them vocational training. The goal is for Northlight “to help students stay in the education system and equip them with the necessary skills and values for work life” in a three-year programme that has character, foundation and vocational education at the core of its curriculum.” In a recent book on how citizens and government can work together to create public value, University of Waterloo professor Jocelyne Bourgon cited Northlight School as a superb example of “an innovation that involves government, education professionals, students, families and communities working together to address a pressing social need.” It has been so successful, says Dr Bourgon, that “its innovative strategies and non-conformist approaches have been copied in primary schools throughout the country and internationally.”


In giving the 2005 UN Public Service Award to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) for the Online Application System for Integrated Services (OASIS), the United Nations said that in the past “the process of visiting various agencies and filling in forms was not only cumbersome and time-consuming but also the incumbents faced red tape of bureaucracy.” Agencies operated in silos and systems were incompatible. OASIS was initiated to “create a common platform to establish greater collaboration among agencies for the application of business licences, as well as a customer-centric portal of choice for users to interact and transact with the Government to acquire licences.” Thirty agencies, including MTI and the Ministry of Finance, collaborated to analyse and reengineer the processes for licences and permits. Initial results of one OASIS component alone, the Online Business Licensing Service, which have likely grown far better, showed that processing times for licences dropped more than 16 per cent to 12.5 days and businesses saved nearly $2m per year.




institutions, including Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, now have social innovation programmes for their students. The non-profit sector is separately working to solve social issues. Along with non-profits that develop solutions, organisations like Social Innovation Park have been set up to incubate social entrepreneurs and innovators. In the private sector, hundreds of small social enterprises, encouraged by organisations like the Social Enterprise Association or SE Hub and often with government funding, are seeking to achieve social goals while making a profit. While government and non-profits or businesses do work together in some areas, there does not yet seem to be a fundamental trend towards tri-sector collaboration for social innovation. Impetus for collaboration is, however, growing. In October 2010, the government launched the $450m Public Private Co-Innovation Partnership (CI Partnership) to encourage co-development of innovative solutions with the private sector to meet Singapore’s longer-term needs. The CI Partnership is based on the principle that the government can better serve the public by collaborating with, and tapping, private businesses to create innovative solutions.

Cross-collaboration is key

Embracing the reality of working with players from other sectors isn’t always easy for public officers long accustomed to being the primary source of solutions. Governments are facing “a key challenge to find out what it means to collaborate,” said Christian Bason, director of Mindlab, a user-centred social innovation lab run jointly by the Danish ministries of Business, Taxation, and Employment. At the Social Innovation Conference (Social iCon) at SMU in November last year, experts from around the world shared insights on why new models of social innovation are needed and how

creative cross-collaboration can lead to better solutions for social problems. Their experiences provide valuable ideas for further strengthening social innovation in Singapore. In an age of scarce resources, Mr Mulgan said, governments have been “pumping more money in and not getting more out.” Solving problems, he said, requires escaping from “the silos we’re locked in.” As a result, “we’re discovering what lies beyond expecting government to find the answers.” Businesses have indeed started to become active in social innovation in many countries, especially since they have increasingly found that issues like under-educated workers and poor employee health have a direct impact on the bottomline. Social impact consulting firm FSG’s China-based managing director Lalitha Vaiyanathan said: “The norm is going to be more companies looking at the core of their assets to solve fundamental social issues.” Non-profits are also working with government and, as former director of the White House Office of Social Innovation Sonal Shah said, they are “beginning to change their roles” from simply pointing out weaknesses in government policy to becoming part of the solution. The new paradigm in places such as the US and the UK, then, is that government and businesses and non-profits all work together rather than separately to devise solutions to social issues. “It’s the capacity to collaborate that will be the key differentiator around the world,” said Mr Mulgan. And in this new model the government has a different role, said Ms Shah, to act “as a catalyst and not a provider of services”. In Singapore, too, collaboration for social innovation, instead of working in silos, could result in better outcomes.

Successful strategies

Since it is not always easy for public officers to shift to a new paradigm, learning from experiences in other countries

Cover Story13

departmental levels can lead to broader changes across the entire public sector. One is what Mr Bason called a “fundamental shift in the relationship between citizens and the state” towards focusing on the majority of citizens who follow the rules rather than the small number who try to cheat. As one example that seems radical yet commonsensical, the tax department in Denmark observed that 97 per cent of people want to pay taxes on time and asked, “Why do we treat them like the 3 per cent? Why do we focus on compliance and control?” After further analysis, the Danish government moved towards helping people pay taxes more easily. While penalties are still in place for the recalcitrant 3 per cent, helping the majority increased efficiency by 35 per cent and created far greater customer satisfaction. Some government agencies have also created competitions to identify optimal solutions. When the US space agency NASA wanted new moon gloves, Ms Shah said, it announced a design contest and received hundreds of ideas for NASA engineers to evaluate.

can be a boon. Governments will have to shift their strategies from “output to outcome”, said Ms Shah, “start thinking about the impact” and assess whether they have actually achieved the outcome rather than whether they have checked all the right boxes. (Or in Singapore’s jargon, “delivered the KPIs”.)

of the largest purchasers of goods, it can leverage procurement and select suppliers who will be more innovative or help solve problems. Since the government “is a market maker in what it chooses to buy”, it can influence businesses to come up with novel solutions to public sector requirements.

Mr Mulgan said it is also important for top leaders to show the way, since success “comes from leadership and how leaders embrace innovation.” One example, he said, is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “When people try something innovative and it fails, he takes them out for dinner. That sends a signal right there that it’s okay to take risks.”

When a programme succeeds, Ms Shah said, public officers can publicise it to show how social innovation solves real-life problems. The US Veterans Administration started with a small suggestion programme and then publicised it broadly as subsequent iterations brought in thousands of suggestions and drove fundamental changes in the organisation.

At an operational level, procurement can also drive change. Ms Shah noted that since the public sector is one

Programmes to Drive Change

The Social iCon speakers also provided examples of how new practices at all

Similarly, Mr Mulgan told Challenge that departments in the UK have said, “We will give X amount of money to anyone who can come up with a solution for, say, saving 10 million hours of commuter time each week, or reducing hospital readmissions.” Mr Mulgan’s recent book, The Art Of Public Strategy, provides additional examples. While social innovation has been around for a long time, the new paradigm of collaboration between government and non-profits and businesses is creating new solutions and greater success. Even though working jointly may create some discomfort among individuals in each sector who had for so long settled into comfortable roles on their own, collaborative social innovation can lead to far greater success.


Real-time, real-data =

Real Good Policies?

LIVE Singapore!, an open platform that harnesses the power of real-time data, has the potential to help the Public Service respond quicker and better to the public. Te x t by

Chen Jingting

P h o to s by

Norman Ng

I n fast - changing S ingapore , keeping abreast of all that’s happening in order to develop effective and responsive policies can be tough. This is where LIVE Singapore! – an open platform that integrates, analyses and visualises realtime data – could come in useful for public officers. LIVE Singapore! is a Future Urban Mobility research initiative by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology or SMART, a collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF). A five-year project, LIVE Singapore! is funded by the NRF, which spearheads Singapore’s research and development agenda.

Prompt Interventions: LIVE Singapore!’s project leader Kristian Kloeckl believes that real-time data can help officers to respond faster and better to situations on the ground.

Project leader Kristian Kloeckl, an Austrian trained in industrial design, is from the Senseable City Laboratory, a research centre at MIT that studies new ways to understand urban dynamics and design tools for cities based on pervasive digital technologies and real-time data. He has been visiting Singapore regularly to work with a team of MIT staff, and foreign and local graduate students since 2010.

Dr Kloeckl points out that LIVE Singapore! could lead to a breakthrough in urban management and planning because “it was not possible technically, until recently, to have information that reflects urban conditions in real-time” and to “actually use, process and distribute real-time data for applications” in these areas. “Right now, urban management and planning is done mostly on historical data. Routes of public transport, for example, are sketched out based on survey results [gathered] years ago. Wouldn’t it be great to plan [them] based on actual user demand right now?” asks Dr Kloeckl. He believes that public transport policy-makers can make better-informed decisions if they were more aware of passenger demand throughout the day, and especially during major events, when large crowds have to be managed. Public officers can also act faster in emergencies, such as floods, when they have real-time data of areas in danger of flooding. Or, in cases of air or water pollution, they are able to detect the causes immediately and come up with effective counter-measures.

Gearing up

Government agencies certainly seem ready for some real-time action. The Land Transport Authority and National Environment Agency (NEA) have provided maps and urban data to the LIVE Singapore! project. “The purpose of our research project is to interact with these institutions, allow cross-fertilisation of ideas, and share research results, some of which can be taken into the real world,” says Dr Kloeckl. He shares that the team has been having “a lot of interaction and conversations” with the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), which is intent on coming up with smart city urban solutions. Dr Kloeckl has also met representatives from the Singapore Geospatial Col-

Making sense of data: Staff from the Senseable City Laboratory, a research centre at MIT.

laborative Environment (SG-SPACE), an initiative by the Singapore Land Authority to give the public easy access to useful geospatial information. Though SG-SPACE and LIVE Singapore! function differently – the former uses historical government data while the latter uses real-time data from the private and public sectors – Dr Kloeckl believes there is room for future collaboration.

Access granted

Besides engaging public officers, LIVE Singapore! encourages crowd-sourcing of ideas: private developers will be welcome to write programmes and applications using its technology. “Real-time data has always been available but it ’s not made accessible to people. So LIVE Singapore! is like an

ecosystem which incorporates multiple streams of real-time data that people can transform into meaningful information and that can be visualised,” says Dr Kloeckl. But in this data-rich world, could too much be a bad thing? Not really, counters Dr Kloeckl, as that information will be filtered based on location and time relevant to people. For instance, data on taxi movements and rainfall, provided by Comfort Delgro and NEA respectively, are combined to create a multi-dimensional projection showing the supply and demand of taxis at different parts of Singapore when it rains. So whether you are someone desperate to get a cab, or a taxi-driver looking for passengers, the visualisation will inform you of high-demand spots.

Feature17 The projection of rainfall and taxi movements was one of six visualisations displayed in an exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum last year. There are ongoing discussions to display them on the streets or through mobile applications, says research engineer Oliver Senn (right most in picture), the mastermind behind LIVE Singapore!’s platform technology. An island-city with clear geographical boundaries and a tech-savvy population, Singapore is an ideal place to develop a realtime data project, adds Mr Senn, a Swiss engineer. Infrastructure such as the EZ-Link card tapping system, which makes it easy to track routes and distances travelled by individuals, also means Singapore is a rich source of interesting real-time data.

LIVE Singapore! visualisations

A greater cause

The LIVE Singapore! team hopes that it can inspire behavioural changes with their real-time visualisations. They believe that by showing how people’s actions can affect the environment, and by providing easy access to real-time data, every city-dweller would be empowered to make better, more earthfriendly decisions when using the city.

emissions, when they only occupy two per cent of the world’s surface. Hence, “we have to find a different way (of doing things)”. Though it is still debatable how much information is needed to influence

If you don’t know where you’re consuming a lot of energy or causing a lot of emissions, it’s going to be hard for you to change.

For instance, “in some cities, more than 50 per cent of traffic in urban centres is due to people looking for parking spots. It is a stupid way of generating emissions, consuming energy, occupying space and wasting time. That’s the result of one driver not having access to real-time information where a free parking spot is,” says Dr Kloeckl, who, in his five years at the Sensesable City Laboratory, has worked with urban planners in Seattle, Rome and New York City to develop sustainable cities.

To him, there is “something not right” about cities consuming 75 per cent of the world’s energy and producing 80 per cent of man-made carbon dioxide

Isochronic Singapore Know at a glance how long you would take to travel to different destinations with this map that expands and contracts in proportion to travelling time. Formula One City Check out the text messaging activity, indicated by the size and colour of the glows, during the Formula One Grand Prix, one of the biggest events in Singapore. This shows how Singaporeans respond to the hype and even how businesses and the public are affected by the event. Hub of the World Witness the incessant flows of goods and people passing through Singapore’s transshipment container port and airport.

behaviour, access to data is essential to power change.

Senseable City Lab’s winning project on trash tracking:

Dr Kloeckl explains: “If you don’t know where you’re consuming a lot of energy or causing a lot of emissions, it’s going to be hard for you to change. But once you know (the effects of your behaviour) and that there is a different way of doing things, it is possible for you to do that.”

TrashTrack Location-aware tags are attached to rubbish to track their journey in the waste management system of Seattle and New York City. The findings are then mapped and projected in real-time visualisations. The project won the US National Science Foundation’s Visualisation Challenge in 2010.

For more visualisations: livesingapore

18 Thinking Aloud This can help you think better, improve relationships and experience more joy, says happiness consultant Vadivu Govind.

Look at what’s

working, instead of what’s not

Recall a time when you were at your best and felt joyful. Feel what you felt then. Let your heart answer: “ What are you grateful for in what happened? What did you appreciate about yourself ? What impact did you have on others?” Chances are that if you did this, your heart would now be beating more harmoniously; more blood would be flowing to your brain. That means you’d be able to focus better and think more clearly and creatively – all these substantiated by scientific studies, no less! Imagine that on a longer-term basis, as you develop and deepen a practice of focusing on what’s working in life. Then why do we have a tendency to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right? Part of the answer lies in “negativity bias”, an evolutionary tendency for us to focus on what could harm us. It’s a survival strategy. However, we tend to over-use this even when there’s no danger. Such fear keeps us from greater joy. One way to focus on what’s working is by focusing on people’s strengths. A 2002 survey by the US-headquartered Corporate Leadership Council of some 20,000 employees across 29 countries found that focusing on performance strengths boosted performance by 36 per cent while focusing on performance weaknesses led to a 27 per cent decline in performance.

Tapping into people’s strengths also means enhanced teamwork, retention of talent and fulfilment at work. Focusing on strengths is one slice of the important pie of gratitude and appreciation. As Dr Sonya Lyubomirsky, a researcher on happiness, says, gratitude “is a kind of meta-strategy for achieving happiness”. I started a daily gratitude practice more than five years ago and one reason I’m studying it closely now for my work is because of the personal joy and peace I have experienced in using it.

this, you experience much more ease and growth. Give impactful appreciation. Express how someone’s actions made you feel, what organisational need they met, and what strengths you saw in them. If someone does some great work, tell their boss, tell them personally and where possible, appreciate them in public. “What are you grateful for today or this week?” Pose such a question during meetings. Put up a visual reminder at your desk.

Discover and use your strengths wisely. Harness strengths instead of weaknesses in others. If you’re ready to start focusing on what’s working, here are a few tips. Develop a daily practice. List at least three things you are grateful for every day. Include what you appreciate about yourself. Use a method that works best for you, whether it’s a journal or an app. Start with gratitude for what’s working well. Then learn to discover and appreciate the hidden gifts and lessons behind difficulties. When you can do

Discover and use your strengths wisel y. Harness strengths instead of weaknesses in others. Focusing on what’s working is a transformational approach to life. It is especially useful when you do need to look at what’s not working.

So – what are you grateful for today? Vadivu Govind is the founder of Joy Works (, a consultancy that specialises in enabling people to access joy at work. A Master of Public Administration graduate from Columbia University, she is also an accredited strengths practitioner.

Letters to aYoung Public Officer 27


liked and be

Rewarded by Chua Chin Kiat Chairman, Centre for Enabled Living and former Director of Prisons (1998-2007)

DEAR YOUNG OFFICER, As a public officer, before you start work every morning, you should ask yourself this question: “What can I do to add value to someone’s life today?” (If you are a CEO in a listed company, I think the question should be: “What must I do today to make my shareholders richer?”) Don’t laugh! The beginning of motivation is the ability to preach to yourself and ask yourself the right questions. By doing so, it helps us to always keep the fundamental firmly in mind. The question I started my letter with can be more specific to your posting. When I was Director of Prisons, the question I asked myself was: “What can I do to add value to some prisoners’ lives today so that they never have to come back to prison again?” The answer to the question differed as my thinking on the matter evolved. I quickly realised that I could not accomplish what I wanted to do on my own. No matter how well we prepare a prisoner to renew and restart his life, many factors can derail our work. What if his wife refuses to forgive him? What if his children reject him? What if no employer wants to give him a job? These other key people in his life are not within the ambit of the Prison Service.

This problem led us to seek to collaborate with other agencies in order to touch these key people in a prisoner’s life. I think one of the most neglected of leadership qualities is likeability. As we embarked on these very complex collaborations to help released prisoners, I realised that people collaborate with you not just because they like your ideas. Very often, it is also because they like you. Let’s be honest! Who will work with people they dislike, if given a choice? Some of us are by disposition more likeable than others. But there is always something you can do to lift yourself up the likeability scale. Let me offer a few commonsensical suggestions. First, be a person of your word. Never renege on a promise, however small or big it is. Second, make yourself useful to other people and agencies. If you help others in small things, they will help you in big things.

I realised that people collaborate with you not just because they like your ideas. Very often, it is also because they like you. very smart people. I have attended meetings with two very smart people in the room. They carried a dialogue all of their own and lost everyone else. If you are too clever by half, no one would want to collaborate with you. So if you want to bring people along with you, you must adjust your speed to that which people are able to follow.

Third, be a good listener. Show interest in others’ viewpoints. If you understand their viewpoints and respond to them, they will respond to yours.

In today’s public service, one cannot accomplish much without collaborating with other people. Very often, your key collaborators are going to be people outside the public service. If you are an introvert like me, you are going to be somewhat disadvantaged. You have to overcome your natural shyness and take the initiative to reach out to people.

Fourth, be patient and don’t talk above people’s heads. This is a problem with

Work on your likeability. You will be richly rewarded.


forget the

People” The woman responsible for transforming Marina Bay now has big plans for public housing in Singapore. Challenge speaks to HDB CEO Cheong Koon Hean. Text by

Hong Xinyi John Heng

Photos by

When it came to deciding what she would study in university, Cheong Koon Hean decided to marry her love of science and the arts by specialising in architecture. She realised later that her real passion lies in urban planning, which she describes as more macro. “A single building takes maybe two or three years to complete, and is less impactful,” says Dr Cheong, who has a master’s degree in urban development planning from University College London. “Urban planning works on a much larger scale, and takes more time, but it can influence a city and a country.” And she certainly has done that, having become the single policymaker most closely associated with Marina Bay’s glamorous makeover. But the former Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) chief executive is not one to dwell on the aesthetic audacities of Singapore’s stylish new skyline. Ask her about architects who inspire her, and Dr Cheong mentions Moshe Safdie, who had dreamed up Marina Bay Sands’ curving towers and surreal ship-shaped roof, as an example.

A Cuppa With...29 His striking building and the swanky waterfront neighbourhood it dominates have propelled Singapore into a new league of fast-developing, futuristic global cities. Dr Cheong’s remarks about Mr Safdie are telling: “He’s very hands-on, takes pride in his work, and produced a very good building.” The note of pragmatism is pronounced – and somewhat unexpected, coming from someone who frames the work of urban planners as making dreams come true. At the URA, where she was CEO for six years, “we did a lot of dreaming... we’d to convince private developers that what we wanted to do was worthwhile, in order for them to build the way we envisioned the city to be,” she says. Her grasp of the big picture manifests as a delight in details. She speaks of how deliberate planning and persuasion led to the way public spaces at Marina Bay connected with individual buildings. “That integration happened because it’s planned. If it feels seamless, then we’ve succeeded.” The CEO of the Housing and Development Board remains a dreamer in her new job. “We’re creating a good environment for people to live in, making their lives better. It’s so exciting to get your first home, and as the master planner and developer, we’ve to deliver homes that are good value for money. We’ve to convince people this dream (of owning a home) is worth doing.” To go from shaping the skyline to contemplating the designs of rubbish chutes in HDB blocks may seem like a dramatic change. But she does not believe that her new portfolio is necessarily more inward-looking than her previous one.

Dr Cheong – the daughter of a self-made businessman and homemaker – tries to have kopi or meals at coffee shops and visits rental blocks to get a feel of the ground. Asia, she says, “is always in a hurry. We build very fast, and there is often not enough time to reflect on what you build”. Reserving time and space for reflection is important for the self-confessed nature-lover, who was inspired by Britain’s Lake District when naming the

That integration happened because it’s planned. If it feels seamless, then we’ve succeeded. “URA used to be more domestically focused but we started to tap ideas and marketed Singapore internationally when we recognised that Singapore has to compete globally,” she notes. The same applies to HDB. “ We need to pay more attention to good ideas that are out there. For example, Singapore is a little behind in sustainability while Europe is very far ahead. We can definitely learn a lot from them. HDB must do our part in this area, especially since we are the largest developer in Singapore. What we do can change the industry.” Indeed, she has her sights set on much more beyond the hot-button issues of supply and affordability that have dominated public discourse on public housing. Besides sustainability, HDB will also focus on creating more public spaces, and community-centric towns. “ We need to pay more attention to public spaces, how to activate them so these are very friendly and people just congregate there,” she says. “Place-making and place management includes a vision about how people use a place. Don’t forget the people.”

new Jurong Lake District during her URA days. She lets on that she loves fishing – how as a young girl, she would fish in Punggol while enjoying fresh soursop juice. “ When my sons were growing up, I liked to bring them to the kelongs where our catch can be cooked for us. It ’s very therapeutic to slow down, just you and the sea. I highly recommend it.” If you have no time for a kelong trip, try taking a stroll at Punggol Waterway where you might find Dr Cheong taking in the sunset.

What’s usually in your cup? Coffee, in the morning. Your favourite flavour or brand? I prefer local coffee. Where do you usually have your cuppa? It can be anywhere, like a coffee shop or a hawker centre.

For more, read Double Shot at

s if they are Relook and overhaul system thought leader keeping talent out, urges Malcolm Gladwell. by Bridgette See

D on ’ t tell M alcolm G ladwell you either have talent or not. That perspective is “fundamentally defeatist”, said the author of The Tipping Point and Outliers at the 30th SIM Annual Management Lecture in August 2011. Hailed as the “pop purveyor of new ideas” by Time magazine, Mr Gladwell believes that, for too long, humans accepted that it is “beyond our ability” to do some things. The real problem is low “human capitalisation” or the rate at which a community capitalises on the human potential of its people, a concept introduced by psychologist James Flynn. The great modern challenge Exploiting talent is the great challenge of the modern age, said Mr Gladwell. This is especially relevant to Singapore, whose only natural resource is human capital. A competitive runner in his youth, he said that a defeatist would see a “scarce thing called running talent held exclusively by the residents of Kenya” and apart from “importing large numbers of Kenyans and interbreeding vigorously with the Singaporean population, there’s no way Singapore can ever field a world-class set of long-distance runners”. But American marathoner Alberto Salazar found that about a million Kenyan schoolboys run at least 10 miles a day so there is little chance of overlooking any child with running potential. “Their capitalisation rate is probably 100 per cent.” In other countries, great runners are just never discovered. Poverty trumps genius Human capitalisation levels are “depressingly” low in developed economies. After World War I, American psychologist Lewis Terman tracked children with IQ of above 140 and found a group who struggled in adulthood. They grew up in homes where parents did not attend college, learning was not prized, or there wasn’t enough money for books.

“Poverty trumps genius,” said Mr Gladwell. Relative income disparity is just as detrimental to human capitalisation as absolute poverty. A widening income gap makes it difficult for those at the bottom to make best use of their talents – even in rich and developed countries. “The country with the (second) highest rate of inequality (based on the Gini coefficient) in the world is Singapore. It ’s a reflection of an extraordinarily economically dynamic place where great fortunes can be made but… if you want to improve productivity for the whole country, you’ll have to think deeply of ways of narrowing gaps between the wealthiest and the poorest citizens.” Stupidity gets in the way Mr Gladwell was also blunt on another constraint: the “stupidity” of systems with no logic. As highlighted in Outliers, most professional hockey players in the US and Canada are born in the first quarter of the year as the cut-off age for selection is on January 1. Each year, children are picked to be groomed as Olympians or professionals. But the eldest, not the best, are often chosen. “At six and seven, the difference in a child born in Januar y and December is enormous,” he said, “One could be three inches taller or 15 pounds heavier.” The same happens for IQ testing. Again, the intellectual abilities of children born in January and in December can differ enor-


mously at a young age. A recent University College London study showed that teens had IQ scores that rose or fell by as many as 21 points over the years, indicating that IQ levels could change, and someone “average” could become “gifted”, vice versa. IQ is not ever ything Relying on IQ tests is not enough in capitalising on human potential. A study of an elite New York school found that in 38 years, most of the students with IQ of 145 and above did “very little” eventually. They won no Nobel prizes, were not extraordinary entrepreneurs, nor made a mark on society. Any system selecting only for IQ would leave a lot of talent on the table. There is a “dangerous tendency ”, in Singapore and the US, to be overly selective in education. “We’ve carried the idea of elite education about as far as it can go and I think it’s time to back off a little and wonder about what we’ve lost, what kind of costs there are.”

Finding the “with-it-ness” In selecting teachers, countries have focused on raising their academic standards and training them more rigorously. But when American researcher Jacob Kounin looked at how great teachers kept classrooms disciplined, what mattered was the sense of “with-it-ness”, a teacher’s way of communicating that “I know what’s going on” through body language. These teachers have the proverbial “eyes at the back of their heads” – a quality that has zilch to do with IQ. “How do you get ‘with-it-ness’?” asked Mr Gladwell. “Nobody knows. The only way to find out is to put [teachers] in a classroom and see.”

These teachers have the proverbial “eyes at the back of their heads” – a quality that has zilch to do with IQ.

So American education reformists are proposing a system: “If you have a BA from an accredited college and if you have a pulse, you can teach”.

If teachers do well, they are retained after three years; if not, they will be let go. This would be messy and require lots of time and money, as it cycles thousands through the profession to find the best teachers. But it is a way to open up the process to make best use of talent, said Mr Gladwell. And while the rates of human capitalisation are now “absurdly” low, there is cause for optimism as scarcity of talent is not something to live with, but something “we can do something about”.

All aboard the



Public off icers are increasingly engaging the public in the work they do. The journey together isn’t always a smooth one, but the destination can be rewarding. Ryandall Lim reports that the key is to connect and build relationships. P h o to s by

John Heng


Wh en upset resi dents from Maplewoods Condominium sent a petition to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong against having a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) worksite launch shaft outside their condominium entrance without prior consultation, officers from the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) Project Communications knew they were in for a tough time. After several dialogues – including one where they were “ousted”, subjected to near interrogation and nasty namecalling from confrontational residents – a compromise was reached and the shaft remained, but traffic and pedestrian paths were adjusted. The heated exchange which began in May 2011 took more than six months to simmer down. Why engage the public, if processes can become laborious? The answer is simple: the public is now more sophisticated, vocal and expectant, and a whole lot less tolerant. It’s not overnight that citizens have become more demanding, but it has certainly been clearer in recent years. The Prime Minister himself has said the government has to be more interactive and inclusive with “more initiative from the ground-up and fewer top-down directions”. Public engagement has become a necessity.

emotional level...” Hence, added Mr Chew, it is ultimately about managing relationships.

Making the connection

Mr Chew’s sentiments are lived out at LTA. Since inception in 1995, LTA has engaged the public on major infrastructure projects like constructing expressways and MRT lines. Recently, it established more visible public engagement initiatives. In 2008, LTA launched its Community Partnership Network, deploying staff to work closely with advisers and grassroots organisations as well as attend Citizens’ Consultative Committee meetings to manage day-to-day issues. Project Communications addresses new LTA projects. These efforts facilitate feedback between LTA, the grassroots and the public, resulting in much

quicker and more effective resolution of issues. However, they are obviously more labour- and resource-intensive, as officers have to undergo new training to engage effectively. “As with anything, change involves adaptation as we shift in focus to the people-centric aspect of our system,” says Mr Chandrasekar, LTA’s Traffic and Community Partnership Director. Another initiative, FOLTA or “Friends of LTA”, invites people with keen interest in land transport matters to feedback sessions pegged to new station walk-throughs, as well as site and tunnel visits. This two-way exchange can generate more ideas and enhance mutual understanding. But with the many feedback mechanisms available – hotlines, surveys,

Why engage the public, if processes can become laborious? The answer is simple: the public is now more sophisticated, vocal and expectant, and a whole lot less tolerant.

But first, it must be understood that not everything can involve the public. “Greater public engagement is not a free-for-all,” said Land Transport Authority CEO Chew Hock Yong at the 2011 Public Service Staff Conference. “We have to be very careful about which issues the government is best-placed to take all views into account and then decide and explain to the people and implement.” (Read Challenge March/ April 2010 for more on co-creation) After identifying issues, the key is to connect. “If you show that you are out there, you are prepared to listen, and prepared to work with them on a solution... people relate to you at a relationship and

Reaching out to commuters: From left: Michael Yap (Friends of LTA), Bernard Lim Hock Siew (Community Partnership), Ho Kok Khun (Project Communications), Rena Teo and Muhammad Ismail (Community Partnership).

Setting a track record: The Rail Corridor Project ranks among MND and URA’s most extensive public engagement exercises. (Clockwise from top left): Tan See Nin (URA), Eliza Choo (URA), Lee Chung Wei (MND), Claire Chan (URA) and Glodia Choi (URA).

relevant stakeholders in discussions can let new dynamics arise, allowing for clarification of issues as groups understand others’ constraints. Explains LTA’s Mr Chew: “sometimes, one view can be countered by another that moves in the different direction. People will appreciate that you have to consider different views to an issue.” Agencies should not be too fixated with their agendas and go through the motions of open dialogue. No matter how tempting it might seem to steer a discussion towards a pre-formulated outcome, the challenge is to keep an open mind. Instead, tap pluralistic views and ideas generated, which may eventually allow for co-creating a vision.

Seizing the opportunity

interviews, focus groups, town-hall meetings – agencies need to determine which method to employ. In her article Developing Our Approach to Public Engagement, Civil Service College Senior Researcher Lena Leong writes in Ethos magazine that in a public engagement exercise, it is vital to “determine who, when and what to consult, as well as how to include an appropriate plurality of voices.” Furthermore, making the final collective

contribution visible is just as important “to dispel misperception that decisions were made prior to consultation” and show that the government actually listens. When collected data is not revealed, the exercise fails to reach closure and the public may not feel consulted.

Reaching a compromise

Agencies might sometimes also encounter stakeholder groups whose varied agendas skew decisions, making conclusions hard to achieve. To help reframe issues, identifying and including

When it was announced in May 2010 that the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) railway system from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands would cease operations and the former Malaysian railway lands would revert to the Singapore Government, significant public interest was piqued. The Nature Society (Singapore) sent in a proposal for the preservation of a 26-kilometre continuous “green corridor”. Netizens began to garner widespread support by setting up websites such as The Green Corridor ( and writing blogs dedicated to the cause. The We Support the Green Corridor in Singapore Facebook page currently has nearly 7,500 ‘likes’. Recognising the unique opportunity to involve the public, the Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority


(URA) embarked on The Rail Corridor Project, to crowd-source for ideas on the lands’ development. When the last trains pulled out of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, the entire railway line was opened to the public for two weeks, to allow them to experience the tracks and surrounding nature. MND and URA began on a “clean slate” without any preconceived detailed plan in mind as a proactive response to the widespread interest. It set up the Rail Corridor Consultation Group (RCCG) – comprising NGOs, cyclists and nature bloggers – to contribute ideas. Minister of State (National Development) Tan Chuan-Jin chairs the group, which meets regularly for updates and discussions. Their role as an advisory group, he says, will be key at different stages of the engagement process. The Friends of the Rail Corridor, one of the NGOs in the Consultation Group organised the Re-imagining the Rail Corridor exhibition, which showcased works from architectural and landsc ape students and design professionals, on what the future rail corridor could look like. In November 2011, URA launched Journey of Possibilities, an ideas competition inviting the public to share creative visions and ideas for the future use of the Rail Corridor in response to five key challenges and issues that would need to be addressed in designing the Rail Corridor. Based on these contributions, URA will involve planners and architects to assist in developing its Rail Corridor draft master plan.

because we are consulting the public for ideas at an extremely early stage, without even a draft plan to serve as a point of reference,” reveals URA’s Director, Physical Planning (Central West) Tan See Nin, The Rail Corridor Project’s team leader. “Public engagement inevitably raises expectations that the government will be more transparent in thinking and will be prepared to listen and accept alternative views. Public officers must therefore learn to handle differences of opinion and be prepared to explain perspectives as best as we can.”

Sustaining the relationship

Public engagement, on any level, empowers the citizenry, giving them a sense of ownership over policies. It enhances accessibility to government

“Engagement efforts consume government resources and, in the short term, can appear less efficient than decisionmaking by fiat,” writes Ms Leong, in her article. Moreover, co-created outcomes may prove inconsistent with service standards, and tedious policy deliberations could hinder the government’s ability to manage and plan decisively in the long term. Is the public sector ready and willing to embrace these changes as their operating environments become more dynamic? Ms Leong believes there has to be a change in mindset: “Engagement is not a one-off event. Its quality ultimately depends on the quality of relationship

Public engagement inevitably raises expectations that the government will be more transparent in thinking and will be prepared to listen and accept alternative views.

The Rail Corridor Project ranks among MND’s and URA’s most extensive public engagement exercises to-date, leading the government ’s call to be more inclusive. “We are perhaps breaking new ground

agencies and adds an emotional aspect to policy-making. However, it must be sincerely administered. In an article from GovCamp Singapore 2011, a conference on improving public engagement using technology, participants felt this was especially true in cyberspace where maintaining an “honest, open and unfiltered engagement” was paramount. The engagement process may be intricate but when done correctly, not only increases the government’s transparency and accountability, but builds trust among the people and broadens base support, allowing room for public empathy should outcomes fail or require change. But to reach these goals, some sacrifices have to be made.

and trust stemming from the agency’s record at engagement and delivery, as well as day-to-day interactions with public officers, leaders, and fellow citizens.” “Full management support and having a clear understanding of the desired outcomes from such an exercise are therefore critical factors for public engagement to be sustained and done well,” says URA’s Mr Tan. Only then can meaningful relationships with the public work. This is the first of a two-part series on Public Engagement.

Kitchen confidantes: Chef Flora (centre) and colleague Chef Soon (right) work closely with students to give them a taste of the culinary world at Republic Polytechnic’s Restaurant Training Laboratory .

************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ Challenge trails two public off icers at Republic Polytechnic’s restaurant ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ Oliva, as they serve up Singapore’s next generation of hospitality staff. ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ Te x t by Bridgette See P h o to s by Norman Ng ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************ ************************************************************************************************

No Hell’s Kitchen,This


Carefully now: Service instructor Tye Yee Nen (above, left) and Chef Flora (right picture) give pointers on mocktail mixing and food plating, respectively.

She’s an award -winning chef. He’s a seasoned restaurateur. Chef Flora Lam, 43, and service instructor Tye Yee Nen, 41, both started out at Raffles Hotel. Now, at Republic Polytechnic’s School of Hospitality, they and their team get students ready for the dogeat-dog world out there. But here, it’s nothing like Hell’s Kitchen – the hit reality TV series starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay whose abrasive barking makes grown men weep. Instead, as the minute hand inched towards lunch hour, there is calm, tinged with excitement. Though Oliva opens for two hours daily during the school term – serving $9.50 set meals – the crew has been here since 8am to get ready. The students – in smart white uniforms with hair tucked neatly into black caps – huddle round

Chef Flora as she preps them for the impending flurry when orders stream in. The mother ly chef, who calls her students ‘dears’ and ‘darlings’, throws in a pinch of sternness and a dash of humour. “So, who will brown the chicken?” she asks a team preparing the main course, urging them to rehearse their workflow. “Make sure you don’t overdo the veggies,” she reminds a student responsible for side dishes. Oliva was set up a year ago to give students of Restaurant and Culinary Operations a taste of working life. Besides food preparation, students take on “frontof-house” duties such as being a manager, captain, waiter, bartender or cashier. At lunch-hour, Mr Tye stands at a corner with a hawk’s eye. He sees a barista about to steam milk and intervenes –

“Are you making a latte? No? Then don’t steam it yet.” – before blending into the background again in his dark suit. While service is important, he is most concerned that trainees do not hurt themselves as they weave through the tables, laden with hot food or beverages. Sometimes he even plays counsellor – pulling aside distressed students (who have spilled food or broken dishes) to comfort and encourage them. At 2.30pm, when the heavy glass doors close after the last guest, there is a sense of relief. The students gather to sample the food they cooked, before a debrief. They return for class next week. As for Oliva’s chefs and service staff, they are back tomorrow for another class of students, ready to serve up more talent for the future.

For more on Chef Flora and Mr Tye, visit Challenge Online at for our exclusive photo essay.

38 Unsung Heroes

Like clockwork Ever wondered how everything is perfectly set up in the office every day? Text by

Siti Maziah Masramli

Photo by

John Heng

T he Accounting and C orporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) meeting rooms are named ‘Zen’, ‘Inspiration’ and other such uplifting words. But working there could feel otherwise, if not for Ms L Magaeish Sri, 42.

Her main duties are sorting outgoing mail and other administrative work, but she also spruces up the meeting rooms and staff lounge, keeps them stocked with refreshments, and distributes personal office stationery to staff monthly.

Every morning, the Support Service Officer in Management Services Division works like the invisible elves in the shoemaker’s fairy tale. She opens the doors to the office, checks the room booking system and prepares meeting rooms accordingly.

Last year, Ms Magaeish “put [herself ] in the position to help out” for maintenance, going beyond her work scope to do routine checks on light bulbs and machines. “If there is any breakdown, I’ll quickly make a call so it does not interrupt the staff ’s work.”

Ms Magaeish has a “never-failed” record of arriving at 7 am to open the doors for cleaners and early-bird colleagues, though her official reporting time is 730 am. Business hours begin at 8 am.

“I try to do more than what I’m given to help others and at the same time I can learn. If I just do the same thing all the time, I won’t be adding value to the organisation,” she says.

She is usually the first to reach the office, but once arrived to find a staff member already waiting for the doors to be opened. “Maybe he wanted to escape the ERP charges,” she joked.

Touched to be nominated as an Unsung Hero, Ms Magaeish calls it a highlight of her 11 years of service. “I was not aware that someone really appreciated my work. It is something very unforgettable to me, that they recognise my work.” This is the fifth (and last) in a series to celebrate those working behind the scenes to keep our daily operations running smoothly. For previous Unsung Heroes stories, go to

Level Up39

Where do you sit in your

‘Career Car’?

Knowing this could move your career up a notch, says Michael Podolinsky. Do you have a career or just a job? Start by asking if you are the chauffeur, navigator or the owner of your “career car” and plot a new route to move your career up to the next level. The chauffeur: This person drives the car but does not make decisions on where the car is going. Someone else, a boss, spouse or in-law tells you what you need to do and where you need to steer your career. The chauffeur has little control over the direction of the “Career Car”, often feeling more like a servant, a person forced by circumstance to drive in unfulfilling directions or even circle the same block over and over. “You NEED this job.” “We are behind on the mortgage.” “You don’t have the education or experience for...” The navigator: The navigator determines the direction of the Career Car, but not entirely on his own. Direction is based on destinations assigned by others. No one says “turn left” or “circle the block” like what the chauffeur hears, yet the location is chosen for you. “If you want to get ahead, you must...” “Keep the boss happy and don’t rock the boat.”

The owner: The owner owns his career; the boss is a client and workers are “my team”. This elevated position allows the owner to question ideas, take breaks as needed, set a good example for the team and never feel “obligated” to go to work. Instead, the owner is in career control, respected and on the expressway to upward mobility. Eight tips to be the owner of your career: • Be proactive and ask your boss about your career path and what you need to learn. Volunteer for projects which will stretch you and delegate away those you’ve mastered. If you’re in a supervisory role, encourage your team by talking to them about their career paths. Give them reasons to take on new assignments and grow. • Treat your boss like a client and colleagues like your customers. Serve like a restaurant owner serves top clientele. • Keep your Career Car’s petrol tank full. Full of energy (eat right and exercise), full of motivation (read, watch and listen to successful people) and full of new ideas. Owners must maintain their car.

• Stick to your core skills, passions and strengths. Write down what they are, reviewing and using them daily. • Set long-term goals and back them up with short-term actions. These are your roadmap to success. • Volunteer to help others outside your team. To get promoted, you must know more than your own area of responsibility. • Get mentored; share your mentor’s advice to guide others. Be a service kiosk of information. • Have fun. Make your meetings and workday fun through involvement, sharing, food and simply enjoying the ride. What will you do to truly be the owner of your Career Car and to help your team become the owners of their Career Cars as well?

A Singapore PR, Michael Podolinsky is a cer tified speak ing professional and author of Productivity: Winning in Life (McGraw-Hill, 2011,available at major bookstores). He is a 22-year veteran trainer for the Singapore Institute of Management.

Left: Lieutenant Adnan bin Saidi led the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Malay Regiment to fight the Japanese on Bukit Chandu on February 13, 1942.

Reliving the Past Singapore commemorates Total Defence Day annually to mark the fall of Singapore to Japan on February 15, 1942. Challenge remembers the war heroes with a trip to Reflections at Bukit Chandu and Memories at Old Ford Factory – two little-known spots that document the events leading up to, and life during, the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. Nur’Ain Zainuddin P h o to s by John Heng


Te xt by

December 8, 1941 The Japanese launch air raids and begin bombing all over Singapore

January 8, 1942 Japanese troops penetrate the outer lines of defence at Kuala Lumpur, Malaya

January 11, 1942 The Japanese discover food, ammunition and military maps of Singapore in the railway yards of Kuala Lumpur

January 17, 1942 The British blow up a bridge linking Malaya and Singapore to stop the Japanese from entering

January 30, 1942 The British troops retreat to Singapore


Left: Bronze statues of the Malay Regiment’s 3-inch mortar team at Reflections at Bukit Chandu. Below: Visitors can peer into the “Well of Reflections” to see the reflection of an overhead diorama depicting several scenes of the battle.

The Last Battle

If you drive along Pasir Panjang Road, keep an eye out for Pepys Road, a small lane that leads up a hill known as Bukit Chandu. This was where a fierce battle was fought between the Japanese soldiers and the Malay Regiment on February 13 and 14, 1942 during World War II. It was the final stage of Japan’s invasion into Singapore. Situated on high ground, Bukit Chandu was a key defence position overlooking the island to the north. If the Japanese soldiers gained control of the Pasir Panjang ridge, they would have direct passage to the Alexandra area where the British ran a military hospital and stored their ammunition and supplies. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Malay Regiment put up a strong defence but was outnumbered. Led by Lieutenant Adnan Bin Saidi, the 1,400 soldiers battled with some 13,000 Japanese troops. W hen they ran out of ammunition, the soldiers resorted to hand-to-hand combat, stubbornly refusing to surrender. When captured, Lieutenant Adnan was tortured and hung by the feet on a tree and bayoneted to death after refusing to strip his uniform. Today, a World War II interpretative gallery of photographs, oral history interviews and audio-visual clips, commemorates the courage, tenacity and sacrifice of the Malay Regiment. Reflections at Bukit Chandu Address: 31-K, Pepys Road, S (118458) Tel: 6375 2510 Admission: $2 Website:

February 1, 1942 The Japanese troops repair the destroyed causeway and reach Singapore

February 5, 1942 The Japanese attack Pulau Ubin, drawing the British to move to that region

February 8/9, 1942 The Japanese begin invading the northwest of Singapore

February 10, 1942 The British Royal Air Force withdraw the small number of aircraft from Singapore to prevent Japanese capture

February 11, 1942 The Japanese 5th Division attacks Indian, Chinese, and British troops along Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Timah Roads

Below: Bronze statues of LieutenantGeneral Arthur Ernest Percival (left) and Lieutenant-General Yamashita Tomoyuki at Memories at Old Ford Factory.

Factory of Fear

You might miss it if you weren’t looking out for it. This nondescript building situated along Upper Bukit Timah Road (originally known as the Ford Motor Factory) was the first Ford vehicle assembly plant in Southeast Asia. Before the Japanese Occupation, the British Royal Air Force used the factory’s modern assembly equipment to assemble fighter aircraft and military vehicles. It was here that the British General Officer Commanding (Malaya), Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival, surrendered to the Japanese Commander of the 25th Army, General Yamashita Tomoyuki, on February 15, 1942. During the Occupation, General Yamashita used the factory to produce trucks and other military vehicles for military campaigns. Prisoners of war were also tortured here when part of the factor y became the Japanese headquarters. In 1947, the Ford Motor Factory resumed operations and was shut down when the company left Singapore in 1980. Gazetted as a national monument in 2006, the building was restored and now has oral history narrations, artefacts, photos and documentaries that pay tribute to those who underwent the Japanese Occupation. Memories at Old Ford Factory Address: 351, Upper Bukit Timah Road, S(588192) Tel: 6332 7973 Admission: $3 Website:

February 13, 1942 Singapore’s main defensive weapons – 15-inch coastal guns supposed to cover all sea approaches to Singapore in Changi and Faber – are destroyed

February 13, 1942 The battle between the Malay Regiment and the Japanese begins at Bukit Chandu, lasting two days

February 14, 1942 After the fall of Bukit Chandu, the Japanese attack Alexandra Barracks Hospital, killing more than 320 people

February 15, 1942 General Yamashita Tomoyuki and his aides discuss if they should continue fighting or wait for the British to surrender at Fort Canning, before proceeding to Ford Motor Factory

February 15, 1942 The British surrender at Ford Motor Factory

Feature43 Clockwise from top left: A wall display recounting the fall of Singapore; the vivid paintings and sketches that were secretly drawn by POW William Haxworth are turned into colourful window displays at Memories at Old Ford Factory; an old newspaper clip on the reversal of fortunes as Japanese war prisoners worked at the Padang while being watched by released POWs; a group of POWs photographed shortly after the Japanese surrender; and a replica of the table with the original chairs used during the 1942 surrender negotiations between the British and Japanese.

• Bukit Chandu is the Malay term for “Opium Hill” as there was an opium-processing factory at the foot of the hill. • During the battle of Bukit Chandu, the Malay Regiment fought at the ratio of one Malay Regiment soldier to about 10 Japanese soldiers. • At the Battle of Bukit Chandu, the Malay Regiment soldiers were able to see through the Japanese troops disguised as Punjabi troops from their marching formation – the Japanese soldiers were marching in a line of four while Punjabi soldiers always marched in a line of three.

February 17, 1942 Singapore is renamed Syonan-To, “Light of the South”

August 6, 1945 An atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by the Americans

August 9, 1945 Americans drop a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan

August 15, 1945 The Japanese surrender

September 12, 1945 A surrender ceremony takes place at the Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as City Hall), marking the end of the Japanese Occupation in Southeast Asia

44 The Irreverent Last Page

The Civil Servant’s Prayer Like good public off icers, we thumbed through Pioneers Once More (remember the book?) and found this gem of a poem that was screaming to be shared. Written by an anonymous contributor, the tonguein-cheek poem was published in a civil service newsletter in 1960. We think it could still work today. *Go to Challenge Online at to share the poem or turn to page 46 of Pioneers Once More if you have it.

Need We Say More?

Here’s where we let the humour loose, and learn to laugh at ourselves a little more. Have ideas or jokes about the Public Service? Email us:

1. The is organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) to inspire and equip youths to embark on social enterprises in Singapore and the region. a. Young Social Entrepreneurs Programme b. Social Innovation Convention c. Social Entrepreneurs Conference d. Young Innovators Workshop 2. Under SPRING Singapore’s Technology Innovation has been set aside Programme (TIP), over the next five years to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) exploit technology innovation to grow and differentiate themselves from the competition. a. $120 million b. $220 million c. $320 million d. $420 million was envisaged as a way to harness 3. The multi-disciplinary research capabilities to develop solutions to large and complex national challenges facing Singapore. a. National Innovation Challenge b. National Creative Problem Solving Competition c. Innov8 for Singapore Movement d. Great Singapore Innovation Challenge in 1767 4. John Spilsbury created the first as an educational tool to teach geography.

a. globe b. jigsaw puzzle c. relief map d. cartogram

5. Business theorist Clayton Christensen coined the ” to describe products or services term “ that create a new and unexpected market. a. explorative innovation b. discovery innovation c. profitable innovation d. disruptive innovation

Pairs of

Movie Vouchers To Be Won

Submit your answers by

february 3, 2012 at: Challenge Online Please include your name, email address, agency and contact number. All winners will be notified by email.

Congratulations to the winners of the November/December 2011 Trivia Quiz Chiang Tong Lam June, CPIB Goh Chian Hao, MICA Nishat Begum Bin Abdulla, MOF Gregory Seah, SSC Chia Soo Kiang, NLB


Are you on target to utilise of your ministry budget? Is it about spending what you have so that you hit the utilisation rate? Turn to Page 4 for more information.

Challenge January - February 2012  

Are you innovating for good?

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