Let’s ask: Can the gov issue a new air purifier for every household?


One of my friends said that if he was in power, he would get the government to buy an air purifier for each Singaporean household.

I thought this was an excellent example to show how policy making isn’t so simple.

So let’s say hypothetically that the Ministry of Environment decides to spend a few hundred thousand dollars to buy us all air purifiers. Can the Minister simply just do so? He has to answer the following questions:

– Is it in his power to do so? He has to answer to his colleagues in his Ministry and then the Cabinet and possibly even the Courts.

– Can he justify the finances? Sure, several hundred thousand dollars isn’t going to be a lot of money – but are there better ways to spend the money? Is it going to cost the Ministry even more because of logistics, operations etc?

– Will there be opposition to this? Will politicians accuse him of pork barrel politics? Will someone accuse him of collaborating with Phillips for financial profit?

– Is the Ministry operationally ready to distribute the machines? What if some families ask for two? Do they have the manpower required for the distribution exercise? How long will it take? What about after service?

– On a commercial front, how long will the tender process take? Who will do the evaluation? Why Phillips and not Honeywell?

– How long is the government going to continue doing this? Each time there’s a haze? Or every 4/5/10 years? Who’s going to decide?

– Eventually, he needs to consider: Does he need to take this to Parliament for debate?

So you see, sometimes it is not so easy to pass a policy in government. Your actions will affect many people and across a long period of time. You have to consider a multitude of considerations…if not otherwise a good intent will backfire on you.

After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions isn’t it?

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