How do you have a national conversation...

Singapore Democrats

Confirmed: Our suspicion that the exercise is more an elaborate show to placate Singaporeans than a substantive effort to listen to the people.

Channel News Asia (CNA) had sought the SDP's views on the Prime Minister's call for a national conversation (see questions below).

But when the report was published, not a single word of our response was published. The reporter said that it was an "editorial decision".

This despite the SDP actively speaking up on the matter and calling on the Government to show sincerity by including the opposition in the dialogue. The SDP has come up with alternative policies that we believe are good for our people and our nation.

Another way to have a national conversation is to free up the media so that all views from people from all walks of life can come through without filter by the media.

But true to form, as this report indicates, the PAP has absolutely no intention of wanting a genuine national conversation. It continues to black out the SDP's views by suppression reportage of the party and limiting the dialogue to organisations and individuals that it wants to hear from.  

Such an approach is not only insincere but clear indication that Government is looking for answers that it has pre-determined.

CNA: What kind of Singapore in 20 years’ time - it’s a very broad question. How do you think this exercise will shape up?

SDP: Singaporeans don't want to talk about the country in 20 years' time. They want to talk about what kind of Singapore in 2 year's time.

With the way the economy is going - high inflation and low wages, the massive influx of foreigners into the country, and the continued non-transparent handling of our CPF reserves, Singaporeans are worried about how their lives will turn out in the near future and not decades down the road.

CNA: What are the critical conditions for this dialogue to be constructive and genuine?

SDP: If the PAP wants a constructive and genuine dialogue, it will engage the SDP on alternative ideas that we have proposed like our housing proposal for young families, Shadow Budget and Dr Chee Soon Juan's new book, Democratically Speaking.

If it wants a constructive and genuine dialogue, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong will accept the invitation by Dr Wong Wee Nam for a discussion about the healthcare system with the SDP's healthcare panel.

If it wants to have a constructive and genuine dialogue, it will not stop the reading of Square Moon, a play about the lives of ex-ISA detainees by Ms Wong Souk Yee at The Substation.

If it wants to have a constructive and genuine dialogue, it will free the media and stop censoring views and alternative policies of the SDP.

If it wants to have a constructive and genuine dialogue, then it will allow the SDP to hold meetings in common areas and open spaces with residents to talk about our vision and our plans for Singapore.

CNA: Why do you think the government is launching this conversation now?

SDP: Because it knows that the people are extremely unhappy with its policies. It is using this exercise to manage their discontent instead of making a sincere effort of reforming the political system and allowing Singaporeans a genuine say in how the country is run.

CNA: What are some of the biggest challenges or pitfalls for this dialogue?

SDP: The biggest challenge for this dialogue is how to pretend to have a conversation with only one side talking. 

Friday, 31 August 2012 SDP Print