SINGAPORE - The public service must present a seamless, coherent experience to people or risk losing their trust over time, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday.
And it must also "operate as one integrated whole, fully committed to serving Singaporeans", he added, even as he observed that issues now increasingly straddle multiple agencies because they are inherently complex and interrelated.
He cited as examples population matters, and policies to uplift the poor, transform the economy and address climate change.
Addressing public service leaders at an annual planning seminar, Mr Lee then related what he described as a "not so serious but telling example" of how divisions internal to the public sector could stand in the way of seamless service.
A member of the public called the National Environment Agency after seeing a snake near Tanglin International Centre.
The officer who took the call asked him a slew of questions about whether the snake was in a public park or in the building, and even which direction it was moving in.
The officer was trying to work out which government agency of the four - the National Parks Board, national water agency PUB, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) or the police - was responsible for dealing with this particular snake.
In the end, the officer called non-governmental organisation Acres (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) and asked it to deal with the snake.
But there would be no repeats of such incidents as the AVA now fronts all animal issues and has one phone number for the public to call (1800-476-1600) for such matters.
"So we made some progress but I think we can do somewhat more in other areas.
"Licensing start-ups involves multiple jobs, integrating agency masterplans is also a complex matter and we must be able to put all these all together and make it seamless to the public," Mr Lee said.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.