How do you have a national conversation…

August 31, 2012
Singapore Democrats

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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.$CUT$

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 20years’ time – it’s a very broad question. How do you think thisexercise will shape up?

SDP: Singaporeans don’t want to talk aboutthe country in 20 years’ time. They want to talk about what kind ofSingapore in 2 year’s time.

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

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

SDP: If the PAP wants aconstructive and genuine dialogue, it will engage the SDP onalternative 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 genuinedialogue, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong will accept the invitationby Dr Wong Wee Nam for a discussion about the healthcare system withthe SDP’s healthcare panel.

If it wants to have a constructive andgenuine dialogue, it will not stop the reading of Square Moon, a playabout the lives of ex-ISA detainees by Ms Wong Souk Yee at TheSubstation.

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

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

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

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

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

SDP: The biggestchallenge for this dialogue is how to pretend to have a conversationwith only one side talking.