SINGAPORE -Weeks after Dr Beh Swan Gin became the Law Ministry's permanent secretary, he was tasked to oversee the reform of a law on Singapore's mandatory death sentence.
The experience in 2012 left an indelible mark on the 47-year-old.
He learnt how vital it was "to find ways to understand what the silent majority is talking about".
"Otherwise, your policies and laws may well be shaped by a very loud and noisy minority," he told The Straits Times earlier this week.
The change in the death penalty law since January last year gives judges discretion to impose a life sentence, instead of death, in certain instances of murder and drug trafficking.
But feedback showed a silent conservative part of society felt it "signalled a reduced commitment to law and order", he said.
Mr Beh and PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong were among 66 public sector officers whose promotions were celebrated on Wednesday at the Administrative Service annual dinner and promotion ceremony.
Mr Chew, 46, said understanding the needs and views of the public has been a "very big lesson" for him. Since taking up his present post in 2011, the former navy chief has had to tackle a series of severe flash floods in Singapore as well as the recent, worst-ever dry spell.
Underlying the important role of engaging the public, he highlighted two crucial measures.