Dear editor:
I write this in response to the above article, Man attacks supervisor over apprasial, 18 Nov in the Star. While i do not condone violence and disagree with his behaviour, I believe that this SKT system needs a total revamp.
The annual work target/sasaran kerja tahunan (SKT) is a system meant to evaluate and appraise the performance of government servants. It is a system where every worker is evaluated by two people, both superiors, called the first and second assessor. This system can be (and has already been) abused in many ways.
Unbalanced evaluation
Assessment by superiors only results in an unbalanced evaluation. For example, the head of a department is evaluated by the hospital director, who has probably never worked with him on a day to day basis, who does not see how he interacts with his staff. House officers should be given a chance to evaluate their medical officers and specialists – this will definitely curb the so-called bullying that is apparently rampant nowadays.
Favoritism and suppression
With the current system, if one panders to every whim of his superior, his yearly evaluations will obviously be more favourable than one who doesnt believe in sucking up.
A colleague was given a very low mark because she happened to disagree with her assessor over a few issues and this affected her application for future postgraduate training and career progresssion.
This affects nursing staff as well – any conflicts with your superior (even though you may be correct) results in retribution in the form of a poor evaluation and appraisal. This affects their chances of enrolment into post basic training programs.
Years ago, I was a victim of this system – for voicing out issues and complaints about my workplace (some of which are still not resolved), I was labelled by the hospital director as having disciplinary issues and penalized for that. Appeal letters to the higher authorities yielded no response. Thankfully, I have had very mature and professional assessors since then.

The way forward
I brought this issue up during the health minister’s visit to my hospital but I hope that the other ministries will also cooperate and formulate a more balanced, accountable system.
We need a method where there is 360 evaluation – peer reviews and evaluation by subordinates. This will ensure accountability and prevent the abuse mentioned above. But are we mature and professional enough to accept and handle it?
This article will offend many, especially those who have benefited from this lopsided, unfair and archaic system. However I speak for those who have suffered in silence and hope that this will stop soon. As we develop more new fangled programs and electronic systems, let us not forget the fundamentals.
Dr Timothy Cheng
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