High bonuses inspire Civil Servants to meet their KPIs, rather than focus on serving the people

A senior civil servant in Hong Kong told me that she receives a good salary but does not get any bonus. I think that this is a better system compared to Singapore.

In Singapore, the top civil servants and ministers receive a bonus that vary according to performance. As a result, most of them focus on achieving the highest performance score based on KPIs to earn the highest rate of bonus.

By aiming on the KPIs, they forget about the serving the people, which is not easily measured.

The KPIs usually require the performer to reduce cost or achieve the highest revenue. This is how many jobs in the public sector gets outsourced, so as to reduce cost. This has lead to lower or stagnant wages for public employees.

They also look for ways to increase revenue through charges and fines. It is a bad policy to get people to work for personal greed. It is better to get people to work out of a sense of duty.

Should a teacher be motivated to teach well through a higher bonus, or out of a sense of duty? Should a police officer by motivated by bonus to carry out the duties expected of the job? Should a nurse take care of the patients better just because she can get a better bonus?

We should not use performance bonus to motivate public sector employees to do their work. They should do their work well out of a sense of duty. They should focus on serving the public well, rather than scoring better on the KPIs.

The payment of bonus based on KPIs has another danger. This leads to the concept that the employees can be left on their own, as they will be measured by KPIs and will be motivated to do their best to score better on their KPIs.

It leads to a culture of poor supervision. The supervisor will not pay attention to the work performance, as he thinks that the employees can be self motivated.

I prefer the Hong Kong system. We should pay public sector employees well, including a 13th bonus bonus, instead of adopting the system of performance bonus.

I do not like the system of focusing on KPIs and paying performance bonus, that is adopted in Singapore.


Tan Kin Lian



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14 Responses to “High bonuses inspire Civil Servants to meet their KPIs, rather than focus on serving the people”

  • There is Nothing Wrong:

    with having KPIs, even in civil service.

    The questions are (1) does these KPIs benefit the ordinary people ? (2) how to measure these KPIs ? (3) will these KPIs be open to public scrutiny and approval ?

    Donald Trumps want more jobs for American – a simple KPI, and yet he

    - kept definition of American being citizen of America
    - kept the minimum wage that are already existing
    - kept the immigration rules already existing
    - kept the channels of dissent or the “4th estate” already existing
    - kept the election process already existing where he can be easily easily easily remove from office if the people so desire.

    Compare to another government;

    - dare only to report “residents” – not the people that elected them.
    - no min wage, so a beggar can still be considered “employed”.
    - any 3rd world tourist can come in to ask for and get a job
    - only allow ownself praise ownself, ownself check ownself
    - If deer can be horse, need anything more be said about the election process?

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  • clown pap GDP S$m growth bonus:

    everyday when pap clown wakes up, the first thing is to talk to pinocchio teo and disappointment botak about what to do to increase their clan members’ S$m.

    these S$m ownself pay ownself Ljs work on the stupid theory of goh chock tong wife who says S$600k wage is peanuts and her husband monkey brain mediocre S$1m wage. truly WTF when 3rd generation works for itself on the basis of stupid 2nd generation Lj and Lj wife monkey peanut theories.

    these monkeys peanuts liars ownself check ownself Ljs and Cbs forget median wage in the nation they are ruining is less than S$3,500 GROSS.

    so when S$600k is peanuts and S$1m is mediocre what kind of government can we expect but the money squeezing kind who talks good only when they need your votes and thereafter raise by 30% water, electricity, gas, carpark, and anything else they can raise in order to ensure there is S$m in the nation’s kitty bank for them to pay each other beyond peanuts wage beyond mediocre wage.

    70% sheep truly WTF. they have a hand in prolonging the robberies by these beyond peanuts wage beyond mediocre wage Ljs and Cbs.

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  • Crazy Rich Servants:

    Mr Tan, people often mocked you for losing your presidential election deposit but these idiots just don’t know what they’re missing.

    Though not a president, you’re speaking up for the people. Though not a president, you’ve the guts to speak out against wrong policies. Though not a president, you’re constantly concerned about the sad state of our country.

    Now, where and what is that also non-elected but being paid hundred of thousands taxpayers’ dollars a month indian-born president doing? Gardening? Cooking? Promoting milo?

    Thank you, Mr Tan for showing care and concern when the head of the state is doing nothing. Mr Tan, you’re active and in good health. Please consider standing for the coming GE to serve the country and help the people. You could easily replace and do a much much better job than any of the present million dollars paid 4G ministers.

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  • Malaysia boleh Singapore bodoh:

    KPI’s are important an necessary. – “What gets measured, gets managed”. Equally, if not more, important is to measure the RIGHT things. Median wage growth, annual productivity (instead of GDP) growth, median wage vs the cost of living etc. are examples of good (economic) KPIs.

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  • HarderTruths:

    A civil servant serves the country and is defined as a highly intelligent and patriotic individual who puts country above self.

    I always think of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as a model for civil servants. The UK also had a great civil service that benefitted $G during the Colonial Era.

    There is no point talking about $G government employees as real civil servants. You can replace the whole lot with robots and automated systems and there will be much better service.

    No – the REAL REASON is to keep a core of people voting for this government no matter what. The government is the biggest employer – this is the $G model of massive deficit spending backed by people’s CPF and HDB.

    This is why the $G economy is a Ponzi scheme and cannot survive.

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  • They Are Competing:

    It has come to such an extent that they looks like they are competing with each other to see which Ministry or Stats boards can collect the most revenue.

    Example the LTA drew double yellow lines over all the roads in Singapore and install camera all over Singapore. As if not enough, they employ cheap LTA Enforcers to collect more summons even at 3 am in the morning catching those who parked ilegally. They have already installed so many ERP Gentries all over the island. Now they will be coming with the ERP By Satellite which will be ultimately bring up the cost of living as vans, lorries, taxis and Private hire cars will have to pay more.

    The other Ministries and Stat Boards such as NEA, Ministry Of Health etc are also going all out to make the maximum revenue. But PM said that we cannot increase the salaries becos the business men will suffer.

    Is our Government really taking care of the welfare of Singaporeans ?

    Enough is Enough. Comeon, give us a break or we will fight back or vote the farking PAP OUT.

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  • LIONS:

    And,what CIVIL service they give civilian citizens?
    What is THEIR kpi?


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  • RDB:


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  • 人小毛长那话大:


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  • What KPI:

    KPI is just a smoke screen. If you are in good books with your superior or bosses, I can double confirm even the smallest KPI or no KPI becomes a gigantic performance and achievement as an officer from smallest to highest grade. I can vouch for that. That is how most if not all of the them get promoted anyway, so nothing surprising.

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  • Your bonus is our bane:

    Well, so they’ve even corporatized Ministry of Health to rake in profits. But, people of Singapore, if you’re looking to purchase over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol and gastric pills, you’d likely pay less at Mustafa Center than the government pharmacies.

    How did Singapore wind up 4th in the world for crony-capitalism corruption?

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  • Bobo:

    Can peanut’s husband show public the Final KPI papers of all their members? This request is definitely not too much because all of us have been paying and paying. But yet peanut’s husband said not enough lagi.WTF!

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  • Blessed are the poor!:

    “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
    The meek are generally the poor people.
    The vast majority of the people of the world are the poor , downtrodden and bullied and taken advantage of.
    But don’t worry, all this is happening only in this transient existence.
    The Grand Designer in his infinite wisdom has his plans.
    Ultimate justice will be in the other dimension.
    Just wait a while.
    All the millions and billions will be of no use then.
    All the pleasures of the senses are obviously temporary.
    Not being sadistic, but that is how it shall be.
    Why can’t they think.
    But meantime being poor does not mean keeping company with sadness.
    Being poor does not mean losing out and having a poor quality of life.
    On the contrary being poor could be a blessing.
    Being poor could be enriching beyond imagination.
    The two main ingredients or components or qualities that make for a fulfilling and happy and tranquil existence are faith and good heath. There is no trade off for such qualities.
    Money cannot buy peace of mind.
    Living a good clean life with less will not deprive you of happiness.
    Look at the various religious order and their followers and their deliberate choice of staying in seclusion and poverty.
    Theirs is a conscious choice and effort to keep away from wealth which tends to be ruinous to the soul.
    The greatest founders of the major religions chose to live simply and frugally.
    A rich prince left his palace and concubine to look for the meaning of truth.
    The majority poor will be guaranteed a special “rich and rewarding” place for them in the next dimension.
    You either believe that or not, that’s your choice.
    Meantime, if circumstances are such, then live a life of quiet dignity with less.
    Those who are entrusted to look after you, whether elected or otherwise, have a heavy responsibility to carry.
    If they do their job well, they will be given a still better and “richer” place in the next dimension.
    It is not sinful to be rich.
    Being rich and understanding of how being poor is all about is to own a rich soul.
    Kindness, being caring and always sharing are great qualities that enrich the soul of the person with peace and tranquility.
    So do not fear or be afraid or be affected of being poor.
    Keep the faith and maintain good health, and you are already “rich”.
    Do not fear living with little or less.
    Life is still beautiful.

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  • Strong GDP = Bigger Bonus!:

    That’s have always been the case!

    The rest are all bullshit!

    GD Star Rating
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