Continuation of public service by other means: the post-military careers of Singapore’s military elites

Paul Seen Ng

Abstract


This article is an intrinsic case study of the bureaucratic elites in Singapore, specifically on the military elites’ post-retirement career patterns. Using original data, this article empirically illustrates that around half of the military elites transitioned to the public sector (and even more if government-linked corporations and entities are included). Through interviews with retired military elites, the transition process is detailed. Drawing upon publicly available sources, this article suggests that this phenomenon can be attributed broadly into two categories: historical institutionalism and sociological reasons. There is a lack of notional distinction between Singapore’s civilian leadership and military leadership, with the military seen as just another avenue to nurture public leaders. Moreover, the notions of ‘scarcity of talent’ and the ‘universal applicability of talent’ are prevalent. It is under such an environment that many military elites continue their public service by other means after retirement.


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