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


  • Paul Seen Ng


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.

Author Biography

Paul Seen Ng

NG Paul Seen holds an MSc Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BA (Hons) War Studies and History from King’s College London. He is also an Associate of the King’s College (AKC). His research interests lie in defense, geopolitical, and governance issues.


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How to Cite

Ng, P. S. (2021). Continuation of public service by other means: the post-military careers of Singapore’s military elites. International Public Management Review, 21(2), 40–78. Retrieved from