20 LUMEN | ALUMNI
Through theVoice of Mr Leo Yip
The head and face of the public sector stays true to his roots .
Mr Leo Yip , now the Head of Civil Service , has many plans for Singapore . He hopes to revolutionise the public sector in terms of education , skills upgrading and overall cohesiveness of society . He is a very well respected and honorary member as he embarks on his journey towards the vision of becoming “ One Trusted Public Service with the Citizens at the Centre ”. He has certainly come a long way be in this leadership role that he is in , seeing SJI as a stepping stone to shaping what he is today .
Written by Johanna Lim Ziyun
He graduated from SJI in 1979 , his memory of the school still etched in his mind . Till today , he has a replica of the statue of St John Baptist De La Salle showing the way to two boys beside him in his office . It serves as a constant reminder of his journey in SJI - the chatter with friends and teachers just livened up the atmosphere ! Within its airy classrooms with green louvered doors , he and his schoolmates witnessed and benefited from lives of purpose and lives of sacrifice of the teachers who taught them , and above all , of the La Salle Brothers who dedicated their lives to educate them . Brothers Joseph Kiely , Kevin Byrne and Henry O ’ Brien , among others , were exemplars of a lifetime of sacrifice . He felt a strong connection to Brother Henry , who taught him literature , sparking his love for the subject . Prior to his own schooling days , Brother Henry had also taught his father almost 25 years ago . It was undoubtedly , a lifetime of sacrifice by the Brothers . SJI was able to teach him the ways of life , building his character and personality . It served as a breeding ground for young individuals to discover their interests , along with growing in the Lasallian values .
The replica of the statue of St John Baptist De La Salle has the underlying meaning of sacrifice ; that behind each of us , to get to where we are today , is a collection of sacrifice that the people in our lives had made – be it our teachers , parents , friends and so many others . It teaches us to be grateful for the things in life - reflecting on our actions and seeing the good in others . When he left SJI in 1979 , Leo could not in his wildest imagination have seen himself being entrusted with his current responsibility as Head of Civil Service . However , he feels that in all vocations , we all have a duty to serve and hence should put our utmost effort into it . He believes that the Public Service offers the opportunity to serve a higher purpose , which is to better the lives of Singaporeans , and to create a better future for Singapore . In his prior appointment at the Ministry of Home Affairs , he strived to make Singapore a more secure place . He has taken much pride in all his appointments , not only helping Singapore attain greater heights in the global arena but also remembering his
roots : to help the last , the lost and the least .
Development of Public Service Transformation ( PST ) Today , we live and grow up in a completely different world from the past . The world today is one of ubiquitous technology and rapid change . Each generation ’ s lived experiences will be vastly different from the one before .
This fast-changing world means that the ability to adapt and the willingness to try something new will be more significant in inciting change . Many startups have surfaced over the years - these are the new breed of our generation . They represent the hopes and dreams of Singaporeans , fuelling their passion to greater heights .
The story of adaptation and the willingness to venture onto something new is emblematic of our Singapore culture . Leo Yip shares , “ One key factor behind Singapore ’ s success is that we are prepared to re-invent our success model , even when things are still going well . We constantly stretch the ambitions of what is possible .” This is actually applicable in the way we work , in terms of our economy , defence , diplomatic relationships with other countries and so on . We always strive to anticipate change and stay relevant in this ever globalising world .
Embarking on Public Service Transformation Transformation lies at the heart of Public Service , which sees its duty to make changes , so that it is ready to create a better future for Singapore and for Singaporeans . This is the core idea behind the current transformation effort in the public sector : that in some areas of how it works and serves Singaporeans , small incremental changes are not good enough ; government organisations need to transform and make significant changes .
As an ageing society with falling birth rates , the texture of society in Singapore is changing . There is new economic competition which it must respond to ; the disruptions of technology encompass both new challenges and opportunities .
The Public Service has the responsibility to create that better future of confidence and optimism for Singaporeans . Leo Yip feels that “ we must make the big , bold changes across the Public Service necessary to serve Singapore and Singaporeans better in the future .” He further prompts us to ponder “ What do you imagine Singapore to be in 2 , 5 , or even 10 years ’ time ? What type of living environment do you want for your families ? What kind of society do you want to live in ?” These burning questions leave us perturbed but with the new public sector transformation , it aims to address these concerns .
Advice to fellow Josephians These are the words of advice from Leo Yip :
“ This same spirit of adaptability and willingness to try something new applies equally to you . You have the luxury of youth . Take the time to try something different in your lives now and in your future careers .
But the flip side to trying something new is the resilience to deal with failure when it does not work out . All of you in SJI now have time on your side . In the grand scheme of life , do remember that 6 months or even 1 year is short . Failure that tastes bitter today , or a month after it happens , or even six months , will not feel the same a year from now .
So , take the long perspective . Don ’ t be deterred by failure . It could even be a blessing when the lessons that you learn , help you achieve success later .
As I do my duty each day , I draw inspiration from the lives of purpose and lives of sacrifice that I witnessed close-up during my four years at SJI . I hope you will make the most of your experience in SJI , and go forth to find meaning , purpose and fulfilment in whichever path you choose to pursue .”
In conclusion , Leo Yip is truly an inspirational figure that we should look up to . He is indeed an asset to SJI and the wider community . As he makes his mark on the Public Service Transformation project , we wish him all the best in his endeavours in the public sector .