Effective Training

Topics: British Empire, Bureaucracy, Public administration Pages: 84 (14047 words) Published: April 9, 2013


A comparative study of the civil service of Hong Kong
and Singapore

Hin, Ada; 禤雅儀


Issue Date





Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License

I. Introduction

In recent decades, many Asian countries have been going through remarkable changes and developments, both in terms of economic, technological and political aspects.

The Civil Service, whose contributions to the economy and

society are relatively overlooked by most people when compared to the private sector, has actually been playing a significant or even a leading role in facilitating these developments.

The beginning of the recent developments in most civil service systems in Asia can be traced back to the period after the Second World War, when there was a major reshuffle of power relationships among the Asian countries. The Second World War upset the original balance of power among the world’s major nations, and this in turn, changed the geographical relationships in many parts of Asia. With the end of the war and the setting up of the United Nations, the major western powers had to give up their former colonies or spheres of interests. As a result, most of their former colonies in Africa and Asia gradually gained their independence after the war. A period of post-independence political unrest in these countries thus followed and in order to cope with the need of forming a


new government after the leaving of their colonial masters, changes and transformation of the civil service systems became inevitable.

Moreover, with the handover of political power from the hands of the colonial powers to the indigenous people, the objectives of the governments changed. Previously, the colonial governments implemented policies and rules to maintain its presence in their colonies and to serve the interests of the colonial masters, without paying much attention to the long-term benefits of the colonies1. With the setting up of new national governments in some countries such as Singapore, emphasis was now shifted to national development and policies were made towards the merits and achievement for the countries’ own good.

As a chain

effect, the trend for civil service development meant a transformation from performing limited house keeping functions, such as maintaining law and order, during the colonial period, into a service oriented model with aims for national and economic developments for the post colonial period.

Besides, with the remarkable economic developments in the USA and Japan after the Second World War, people in the Asian countries began to raise their


Lee Boon Hiok, “Singapore”. In Siedentopf, Heinrich and Raksasataya, Amara (ed), Asian Civil Services – Developments and Trends. Kuala Lumpur, 1980, p.474.


expectations about the services of their governments and seek for a higher living standard. This, together with the efforts put forth by the United Nations in improving the civil services of the developing countries, led to a series of new developments in the civil service systems in various parts of Asia during the past decades.

Among the many areas in Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong are two cities with similar backgrounds, environments and standard of living. Both of them have experienced a long period of colonial rule by Britain. Hong Kong were under 155 years of British rule from 1842 to 1997 whereas Singapore had been a British colony for 140 years and got its internal self-government in June 1959, and later its full independence in 1965. Both of them have experienced rapid economic growth and were regarded as two of the “Asian Four Dragons” in the 1980s and early 1990s. The problems and challenges facing these two cities, though may be diversified due to different political structure, social culture and geographical variations, have many features in common.

This is especially

obvious after the...
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