Chan Chun Sing has finally explained to Singaporeans why it is not good to "indiscriminately sack people". In a speech during the Committee of Supply debate yesterday, Kee Chiu said that learning from mistakes will help Singapore's public service improve and grow.

He is aware that mistakes are bound to happen even if things may seem very well-planned. "When things go wrong, the public service will work hard to fix the mistakes and seek to do better."

He promised Singaporeans that there are responsible leaders who learn from their lapses and hold themselves accountable. He therefore thinks that it is unwise to indiscriminately sack those who, after their setbacks, are more eager to do better.

"If we do not address the mistake head on at the respective levels, but instead choose to indiscriminately sack staff or leaders every time something goes wrong, then we will have a weaker system over time."

On the contrary, Kee Chiu thinks that it is a big mistake to sack people with lapses as it will make them disheartened and afraid of taking risks or new challenges.

Now, Kee Chiu may have been trying to appease Singaporeans but somehow it sounded like an excuse. While it is inevitable that mistakes happen, there should also have some kind of punishment. If not, people will simply continue to take unnecessary risks without considering what is at stake for Singaporeans.

Mistakes can be forgiven. People do learn their lessons. But do not test the patience of Singaporeans by expecting us to understand every time they make a mistake.

If life was simply about making mistakes and apologising for those mistakes, then we definitely do not have to pay these people more for doing what others can do better.

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