PMO announces new Department of Public Apologies

[This was submitted by a guest writer]

In line with Budget 2019, the Prime Minister’s Office has decided to set up the Department of Public Apologies. Chief Public Apologist and former Army General Lim Chee Siong remarked, “This is a landmark moment for us, and for Singapore. This move signals to the world that the Singaporean Government is an efficient and fast-moving one with a unique ability to respond swiftly to national emergencies.” 

Chelsea Tan, former speechwriter for Minister Heng and new recruit to the department, spoke to us, beaming, “I’m so relieved this department opened! Before, I was the only person writing public apologies. Now, there’s a whole team I can work with – we can brainstorm new ways to say ‘deeply saddened’ and invent new synonyms for ‘transparency’!” Joining Chelsea is a staff of handpicked army generals from the Navy, Airforce, and Army. Commenting on her new colleagues, Chelsea admits, “you know, I was initially dubious about the apology-writing abilities of a team full of former engineers, but the armed forces has been issuing many public apologies recently, and as they say, practice makes perfect!”

In line with recent demand for apology-writing, Skills Future Singapore has announced new courses such as Creative Writing 101: 100 Ways to Say Sorry, which are eligible for subsidy under the Skills Future scheme. Head Instructor Ronald Chen comments, “Honestly, it’s not that hard. Just think of the whole thing like a toxic relationship, y’know? Like instead of saying sorry, you could blame the other party, say it’s for their own good, or accuse them of having unreasonable expectations.”

The Civil Service College has also introduced specialized workshops for the cream of the crop: those in the Admin Service. These include Introduction to Facial Expressions: How To Look Sorry, where civil servants are taught the right way to angle their eyebrows and how to quiver their lips to achieve the perfect apologetic-but-not-too-apologetic expression. Doreen Teo, Director of the CSC, commented, “Here at CSC, we pride ourselves on being forward-thinking. Given that we anticipate that apologizing is on course to be an essential skill for Singapore’s political elite, we decided to train all our civil servants to be competent in this, especially since our 5G leadership will likely be picked from this pool.” 

Eugene Kong, Political Science Professor at the University of Singapore, thought the move signaled the government’s commitment to continue being responsive to the public. “This is clearly a sign of a healthy and maturing democracy – the government cares about its public image, and wants to word all its apologies carefully, so as to preserve public trust in the government’s integrity. Sure, some of the apologies may have been a tad saccharine, but all in all I think this move is a positive sign for our liberal democracy.” 

At press time, Minister Heng, who announced this at yesterday’s unveiling of the Budget, remarked, “The decision to set up this department was not an easy one. Many meetings were held, but as a team, we decided a judgment call had to be made, in the interests of the country. As always, we operate on the basis of open consultation. The public is more than welcome to provide feedback on how best we can execute future apologies.” 

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