The following is an attachment from an email bcc-ed to all MOE employees, not marked as confidential.
I will not publish any political opinions. Instead, I will publish understanding of facts, policies and processes in Q&A format so that I will remember in the years to come.
1) Are ministers public officers?
No. They are termed political heads. Let's just use the above ministry sender, MOE as an example. As of writing, they have 5 political heads: Mr Ong Ye Kung, Ms Indranee, a Minister of State i.e. assitant to the 2 mentioned above that are in the Cabinet, then 2 Parlimentary secretaries. These 2 Parlimentary secretaries are so-called temporary I believe, subject to change when there's a reshuffle in the Parliament, as opposed to 2 Permanent Secretaries fovever in MOE. These 2 Permanent Secretaries also happen to be the highest 2 positions in Senior Management of MOE, deemed as truly in the Ministry and not of any Party affliations.
In other words, Minister Ong is not a public officer, and therefore not subject to the rule that public officers must not hold office in any political organisations. Although yes, in the public eye when something happens, it's almost always the political heads that people remember and people choose to bring attention to. Eg. Mr Desmond Lee wrt therapist manhandling child case. But then again, details matter.
2) Can I, then, understand that anyone that's
(a) not a political head and therefore
(b) not appointed by the Parliament to attach to a certain ministry
cannot have any Party affliations and be a public officer at the same time?
Yes, you are correct. Which means that any potential GRC representatives etc, first-timers or not, have already quit their public officer jobs by the time they are even mentioned by the Party, opposition or ruling. Usually at least a few months before that they'll have settled the old strings. If they get elected, great, new job and 10k as basic MP. If they get into Cabinet, great, new job and more than 10k as basic MP and more.
That's why whatever SAF blah blah high-ranks, they are all former public officers. They had to quit before trying their luck as potential GRC representatives etc. Just take 1st female general Ms Gan Siow Huang as an example.
Don't ask me about NTUC and Mdm Halimah Yacob though, presidency has its own set of rules most likely, a whole lot of other details. Kinda awkward for a president to hold double salaries as a union head too, you get me yeah?
3) What does it mean by holding office in any political organisation?
Holding office most likely refers to senior positions like leader, secretary, treasurer, chair etc. basically of some stature and standing within. In other words, if you want to volunteer your time a as temp/ad-hoc/nameless make-the-rounds person during nomination periods, you can, opposition or ruling.
4) Can I then wear a opposition party shirt to eat dinner outside in days other than Cooling-Off Day?
Yes, you can. In other words, as long as you are not conducting/participating in activities of a political nature
(a) in uniform
(b) when on official duty
(c) in a govermnet building or premise
(d) in a rally (yes, that zoom background during virtual rally is counted)
Just don't crave for that yummy [whatever] near the zillions of government buildings in your political shirt, ruling or opposition. And don't eat near your office. Literal, physical office. Yes, even the Permanent Secretaries.
Not your fault when someone who knows you take a picture and point out that you are a public officer, you know what I mean? Update: an article on two then-serving public officers who broke the rule https://www.onlinecitizenasia.com/2015/01/12/public-servants-in-political-parties-politically-neutral/
hope they have cleaned up the matter by now.