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Dr Chee Soon Juan has asked the Insititute of Policy Studies (IPS) to host an event for him to discuss the ideas in his book Democratically Speaking. The IPS declined, citing its policy of not hosting political parties.$CUT$
Dear Dr Chee
I refer to your email of Sept 6.
Mr Goh was speaking in his capacity asthe Patron of IPS. Minister Shanmugam was addressing IPS donors inhis capacity as a Cabinet minister.
IPS has also hosted representatives ofvarious political parties — including from the SDP — at itsconferences and forums, such as the 2006 post-election forum and theelection conferences last year. But we have not convened events for individual representatives of any party or for a party. That has been the Institute’s policy for 25 years now.We do have an online platform, IPSCommons.sg. You might want to consider offering something to that site.With best wishes.Li Lin
10 September 2012
Chang Li Lin
Institute of Policy Studies
Dear Ms Chang,
Yes, I am awarethat you organised the events for Mr K Shanmugam and Mr Goh Chok Tongin their capacities that you described. But I cannot understand therationale behind it and, I assure you, neither can the public.
Ironically, such reasoning has longbeen employed by the PAP. Let me give you an example: the PAPconducts meetings with Singaporeans at void decks and common areas inHDB estates. But they prevent the SDP from doing the same becausepolitical parties are not allowed to organise such activities. ThePAP meetings, it claims, are conducted by their MPs, not theparty.
Such a policy of allowing only governmentrepresentatives and not political parties to speak – including thePAP – carries a veneer of fairness. But it fools no one that theunderlying objective serves to give voice only to officialdom managedand controlled by the PAP.
This legerdemain in logic is whatangers Singaporeans. It is not the titles of your guests or thecapacities in which they are invited to speak that are important, butrather the views that they hold. (The very fact that Mr Goh ChokTong, a card-carrying member of the PAP, serves as Patron speaksvolumes of the IPS’ neutrality.)
It is also curious that theIPS, a think-tank engaged in policy research – your website sloganreads “engaging minds, exchanging minds”, is not more interestedin the SDP’s National Healthcare Plan, Shadow Budgets, and paper onMinisterial salaries.
Why should these policies be any lessworthy of examination just because they are drawn up by a politicalparty? Indeed, if national policies are not proposed by politicalparties, then where should they come from?
If ourintelligentsia, in which IPS occupies a prominent and influentialposition, cannot encourage policy discussion then what good is it tosociety? We dumb down society when we curtail debate.
You alsowrite that the IPS’ policy of not convening events for politicalparties or their representatives has been in place for 25 years.Doing the wrong thing for a long time doesn’t make it right. Progressdemands that we constantly re-examine existing policies.
Theabove arguments notwithstanding, I have indicated to you in myprevious email that I am not asking the IPS to host an event for meas a representative of the SDP but as an author of my book in my owncapacity.
I continue to hold out hope that I can discuss myideas with my fellow citizens in my own country. To this end, and forthe reasons I cited above, I humbly ask again that you to re-consideryour decision. Thank you.
Chee Soon Juan