A conversation going nowhere

In News Reports, Politics, Society on September 7, 2012 at 11:54 am

I had a look at the National Conversation page that Mr Heng Swee Keat put up inviting all and sundry to say what sort of Singapore they want to live in. But besides having it written in four languages, I don’t see anything new in what he said. But never mind that. There should at least be a structure on how this conversation is going to take place. I can already see frustration building up. Some netizens are already asking for some kind of structure – by policy perhaps? As it is, so many posts are building up on a wide range of topics but there’s little follow-through. Not much in terms of reaction from fellow netizens and none from the G. In any case, who is taking part in this conversation? Is this a conversation between Government and people? Or people-to-people? Or is someone waiting to see what will happen “organically’’? Is someone taking notes so that at the end of the 1,000th post, we’ll know what are the top issues etc. If that’s the case, pay for a scientific survey!
Seriously, it’s about time Mr Heng and his team (whoever they are) get down to telling us HOW this conversation will take place instead of simply suggesting “dialogue’’ and “forums’’. We’ve been dialogueing and forum-ing for quite some time. I think people are actually quite excited at the prospect of engaging in the conversation – but if there’s no sign of some coherent structure, it’s gonna flag.
The last time something like this happen, Remaking Singapore, topics were put in terms of trade offs – like how to deal with the expectations of the young and needs of the old. That was a good way, except that it was confined to just some hundreds of people invited to form committees etc.
I believe the population unit’s current discussion on population policy is framed in terms of trade offs as well. Perhaps, different FB pages could be spun off so we have a more constructive way of engaging each other, and with the Government. How civil servants can help is to provide background information along the way at certain points of the conversation so that it can be informed.
How about it, Mr Heng?

  1. Knowing how the civil service works, I wouldn’t automatically assume that any “background information” provided by civil servants would be complete or unbiased towards a preferred outcome. Not impossible, but would require very strong intervention by the Minister himself to ensure that.

  2. For me it begins with “How to talk ah?”, to which the answer is “Whatever you have to say, say it respectfully.” I think we’re struggling with that, and that’s what I’d personally like to focus on, even before we actually talk about anything meaningful.

    Content-wise, maybe we should use a sort of wiki-format. Hmm.

    Truth be told I think we (as a community) could just disregard Heng and gang and talk to each other. I don’t see why we actually need to G to hold our hands in this regard.

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