During a recent parliamentary session, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who was responding on behalf of the Prime Minister, addressed a question from Mr Leong Mun Wai, a non-constituency member of parliament and Secretary General of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP).
On Wednesday (22 Nov), Mr Leong inquired about the current racial and gender breakdown of senior civil servants in superscale grades MX9 and above. The compensation of Singapore’s senior civil servants in the MX9 superscale grades have ranged between S$200,000 and S$260,000 annually over the past five years. The MX9 grade is considered the starting level for senior civil servants in superscale grades, generally corresponding to director-level positions in government ministries.
Minister Chan’s written response, while comprehensive, did not provide the specific statistics requested by Mr Leong.
In his statement, Minister Chan highlighted, “The racial and gender proportions of the Civil Service as a whole are broadly aligned to that of the national population. Racial and gender diversity are but two of the many dimensions of diversity we look for. Other equally if not more important dimensions include the wide range of experiences and capabilities needed to deliver our national outcomes. Given the diversity of roles in the Civil Service, we do not and should not expect every sub-sector or grade to mirror the national profile.”
He elaborated, “What is also important is for the Civil Service to establish engagement structures and processes to ensure that the necessary breadth and depth of perspectives and interests are taken into consideration. Ultimately, what matters most to our public service work are not necessarily the input indicators of race or gender, but the outcome indicators of efficiency, effectiveness, and resilience.”
Furthermore, Minister Chan referred Mr Leong to a previous parliamentary response from 5 April 2022, addressing similar concerns about diversity in higher levels of the Civil Service.
In response to Ms He Ting Ru, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Seng Kang GRC, Minister Chan, who also serves as the Minister-In-Charge of Public Service, emphasized the multidimensional nature of diversity in public service leadership. However, this response did not contain details about Mr Leong’s question.
In a November 2018 parliamentary response, Minister Chan noted that superscale officers constitute about 1.9 per cent of the civil service, with monthly salaries starting from approximately S$11,000.
The absence of specific data in response to Mr Leong’s question, or what appears to be plain sidestepping and avoidance, is not uncommon in the Singapore Parliament.
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