[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, June 05, 2008

[About reservist]
Blogging about the army may be taboo but I think commenting about reservist is worse. Nevertheless, I shall go ahead and talk about what I have observed today - it's my first day back in my unit. One of the reasons why it is so sensitive to talk about my reservist is because I am in a classified unit. I shall not reveal which unit I am in but I shall talk about something related.

Four of us in a small department in our unit were given a briefing of changes to the army. One of such is the privatisation of training schools in the army. Our superior spoke about one such school that will be privatised soon.

He told us that in privatisation, only one in three survive. The other two leave the service and are re-employed back in the same place but with a pay cut. Most of these are people that are old and have to have a job to survive.

Similarly, years ago, when I met my former Chief Clerk, she had a similar story to tell. They grouped all the Chief Clerks together in one entity and each year a certain percentage will be asked to leave.

I think whoever is at the Ministry is very creative. And this is a good move to correct the iron-bowl mentality in the army.

Firstly, it brings about competition. When individuals compete, the best are retained and those that do not make the cut are fired. In fact, this is something that the civil service has started to do years back. I remember the cut back by 5% each year on manpower initiative to make the civil service learner and meaner.

Secondly, it keeps people on their toes. People try to find better methods of doing things to improve productivity. With better productivity, these individuals can do more in less time. Now you know why so many civil servants hold multiple portfolios in various committees.

Another smart move by the people at the top is to engineer their own promotions. It's a nice trick. Know the functions of various units, observe the manpower savings then try to integrate several units together. By doing so, you cut back on additional manpower and resources. But that is not the best I have heard so far.

The best one is to merge several divisions (of which one you were in charge of previously) to form a larger division and then assume command of that whole newly-merged division. That is something that is happening here now.

During my national service days we had the vision of an ideal workplace - one that has high technology functions and features - a leap from what we used to have. Today, almost four years later, I see that we have made that leap. My superior tells me that it is because of the various deliberations and efforts to convince the higher ups. Well, I am glad we have moved ahead.

I think the ultimate point to make is that decision making takes time. For the outcomes to be felt takes time.

Moving ahead, there are more plans for the future. I gladly punctuated the conversation with my superior that by the time these future plans have given the go ahead, I would have already completed my 10 cycles of in-camp training.

Unless of course I do volunteer national service which I have been asked to do before. That is something that I may consider in the future.


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