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Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (OSC)!

Discussion in 'The Courtyard Café' started by Rogue Trader, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. Rogue Trader

    Rogue Trader Alfrescian (Inf)

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    [h=1]S'pore dialogues 'have influenced policymaking'[/h]
    [​IMG]
    By Rachel Chang
    The Sunday Times
    Tuesday, Mar 26, 2013

    SINGAPORE -To those who dismiss the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) exercise as a wayang, a talkshop or a sideshow, the minister guiding it, Mr Heng Swee Keat, points to the recently passed Budget as evidence that it is already having an impact on policymaking.

    The mass public engagement exercise through citizen dialogues has been under way for five months and has already changed the way policies are being shaped and prompted a slew of initiatives unveiled in the 2013 Budget, said Mr Heng.

    From a wage credit scheme to boost pay to the introduction of government-run kindergartens, these were linked by the goal of meeting common aspirations that have emerged from the exercise.

    The dialogues have provided no less than a new philosophical underpinning for cross-government efforts, he said.

    For example, one of the 12 common aspirations to emerge from the sessions - termed "Citizens' Perspectives" - is to have a society that takes care of its disadvantaged.

    It is this goal that links recent policy directions across ministries, "whether it's in education where I spoke about levelling up, or in the specific assistance schemes that the Ministry of Social and Family Development will put up, or in the way that the Ministry of Manpower reviews this wage credit scheme", he said.

    His interview with The Sunday Times ranged from the political and social changes emerging from the OSC exercise to how communication of the controversial Population White Paper stacked up - poorly, he freely admitted.

    But he was clearly proud of its efforts so far.

    The well-received Budget 2013 is the biggest example of how the many conversations so far - with the Government listening in - have already "permeated policymaking".

    "There's absolutely no reason to be cynical," he said. "It has shaped the drift of policy and provided a backdrop to the changes we are seeing."

    He believes that the format of the exercise - bringing together small groups of people of different backgrounds to thrash out national issues - should be followed for all complex government decisions, except those where speed and confidentiality are necessary.

    This style of engagement, as opposed to the traditional practice of mere consultation, has two advantages, he said.

    The first is its open-endedness, which allows for a free airing of diverse views. The second is that it puts groups of Singaporeans with differing, and sometimes contradictory, perspectives squarely face to face.

    While this may not change their minds, it can help them appreciate other problems, other world views, and the trade-offs among them, he said.

    In fact, it would have been useful if the consultation process for the recent Population White Paper, published in January to a firestorm, had dovetailed with the OSC exercise, he said.

    He was responding to the view, most recently expressed by PAP MP Denise Phua after the Budget debate, that the White Paper debacle lost the Government goodwill that the national conversation was generating.

    Mr Heng said that when he and his team began planning the citizen dialogues last August, after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he wanted Singaporeans to "ask ourselves some fundamental questions", consultation for the White Paper was already six months along.

    A decision was made not to combine the two exercises.

    Asked how the White Paper's communication could have been better-handled, he said that where things went wrong was the focus on the population projection of 6.9million in 2030.

    "I would say that if we had discussed it in terms of what are the fundamental issues about the Singaporean identity, the size of the Singapore core, should we plan infrastructure ahead of demand, how do we restructure the economy to cope with an ageing population, we would have been more focused on the critical issues."

    In an OSC dialogue, such issues "come bottom up", he said.

    Freelance photographer Shawn Byron Danker, 35, who has attended two sessions, agreed. "The White Paper gave the OSC a black eye," he said. "The OSC was supposed to be about listening, responding, but the White Paper felt like it was bulldozing. If they did it through the OSC, even test-driving the numbers in the small groups, it might not have got such a backlash."

    But Mr Heng is reluctant to dwell on questions about how the OSC exercise can regain the ground lost by the Population White Paper, or if the PAP's recent defeat in the Punggol East by-election shows that it faces an uphill battle in stemming a rising anti-government tide.

    Rather, he emphasised that the exercise seeks more to bring Singaporeans together, than to bring Singaporeans to the Government.

    "It's really not about a better consultation process, but really it is about Singaporeans being able to come together to understand each other," he said.

    He worries that as Singapore society matures and viewpoints diversify, the tendency for polarisation grows.

    "In some countries, the idea of having people come together to sit at a table to discuss their opposing views is almost impossible," he said. What he hopes the OSC can kick-start is a habit in the population of being able to talk about divisive issues and find a compromise, or agree to disagree.

    He is particularly proud of ground-up conversations that are not centrally organised by the OSC, but by other bodies ranging from accounting firms to voluntary welfare organisations.

    The Salvation Army held a session last month with those its social services arm helps, such as teenagers from children's homes and families of prison inmates.

    The issues these participants brought up - such as having more time to interact with their parents or spouses in jail, or where they would go after they grew too old to stay in a home - were certainly not run-of-the-mill concerns.

    It was also the first time that many of them had been asked "What kind of Singapore do you want to see?" said Ms Linda Au Yong, its Singapore director of social and community services.

    As for what might come out of the session, she said: "I don't think they left thinking, 'Oh, there will be a solution for us'. They left thinking, 'I have been heard'."

    But for other Singaporeans, what has been said in the OSC exercise so far seems to have a familiar ring.

    The "citizens' perspectives" - from a society with a sense of belonging, to one with a more fulfilling pace of life - strike some as stating the obvious.

    Financial controller Larry Medina, 47, felt most people at his session, attended by about 50, dwelt on the same topics that have been flagged constantly online.

    "But it's easy to dismiss the views on the Internet, and they often descend into negativity or criticism," he said.

    "I think that the Government is more accepting of views through the OSC and responsive to it because it's their project. I'm sort of amazed at the number of new initiatives that have been rolled out."

    Mr Danker said the reaction he heard from some civil society activists when invited to the OSC was: "Why must we go and talk to them?" But to him, the answer is simply "because the Government has asked".

    "They've reached out. I won't turn around and slap their hand aside," he said.

    Mr Heng is heartened by such views, despite the scepticism and indifference that the exercise faces from various quarters, most notably online.

    "I'm encouraged by those who came being cynical and left feeling good. I'm encouraged by those who came wanting to talk about their own issue and left saying, 'I learnt something about other people's perspectives that I wouldn't otherwise have known'."

    He is confident that the number of converts will only grow.

    "There is a Chinese saying, 'you know the value of a horse over a long journey'. This is a long learning journey, and what we need to do is keep to the sincerity and authenticity of the process.

    "If we just keep doing that, then eventually I think people will see that this is a genuine, sincere effort and this is really about the future of Singapore."



    [email protected]
    [​IMG]
    Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.


     
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  2. Glaringly

    Glaringly Alfrescian (InfP) [Comp] Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Haha. He is shooting himself in the foot. See - you die your own business.

    The government will never take care of the disadvantaged. - FACT
     
  3. laksaboy

    laksaboy Alfrescian (Inf)

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  4. laksaboy

    laksaboy Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O


    Hey look... it's another one of those pro-PAP FTs! :rolleyes:

    http://sg.linkedin.com/in/larrymedina

    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  5. cunnilaubu

    cunnilaubu Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    The sweeteners in the budget is the result of successive defeats at the polls since GE2011. Nothing to do with the NatCon job.
    Trying to con again? :D
     
  6. scroobal

    scroobal Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    This is how the PAP ends up destroying any remaining credibility it has. The budget was a reaction to years of complaints on the same set of issues that reached a crescendo where the PAP lost 2 by elections in quick successions. The last BE where the margin was quite wide and thought to be insurmountable and the candidates attributes were pretty much chalk and cheese.

    Claiming credit via the OSC (no more the national conversation) is quite disingenuous. Secondly, the OSC was an embarrassment as netizens pointed out it was pretty much a captive audience and they preaching and listening to the choir.

    Thirdly having established the groundbreaking dialogue via the OSC, they are now claiming that OSC and the white paper are 2 separate exercises. despite the fact that both the subject and the audience are about Singapore that impacts the whole country.

    OSC did not uncover anything new. Through this whole interview there is nothing to suggest otherwise.
     
  7. jw5

    jw5 Moderator Old Timer Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Extremely mild knock on the pap. Practically no impact at all, considering the lack of substance and the timing so far away from the next elections.
    Typical style of cunning idiot scroobal, who doesn't realise that internet monikers mean nothing, except if you have an agenda and/or are a manipulative egoistical bastard.

    Now this type of threads below near to election time may have an impact, given the content and the timing. However it didn't work last time.
    Keep trying cunning cretin scroobal.

    http://singsupplies.com/showthread.php?89550-The-Chen-Show-Mao-Affair
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  8. kingrant

    kingrant Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    This is quite telling. the govt is pitching Singaporeans against Singaporeans - divide and rule.

    He's saying that the govt is the middleman and has to navigate between two conflciting Singapore sides. Is he for real? Or 55% locals vs. 45% foreigners?
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2013
  9. zhihau

    zhihau Alfrescian (InfP) + S-Mod Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    dialogue influenced policies? bwahahahahahahaa... this April's Fool joke is a bit early, don't you think?
     
  10. Confuseous

    Confuseous Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Everything he says are just CKLS - chui kong lampar song.
    The ability of these ministers who beat around the bush, talk cock and singsong where there is zilch to talk about is fascinating.
    Worse, they all seem to really and sincerely believe the BS that they are sprouting.
     
  11. zhihau

    zhihau Alfrescian (InfP) + S-Mod Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    pardon the ignoramus. how are the policies formulated? how are they implemented?
     
  12. soIsee

    soIsee Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    I never expect traitors to change tack?

    Do you?
     
  13. soIsee

    soIsee Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    It's been proven for many centuries already, that once one started to bull shit so strongly for their Master, they had also believed in the bull shit they are sprouting so strongly that they seem to see and hear things that they are bull shitting.

    But the amazing about humans is, despite their belief in the bull shit, their survival instinct for themselves and their kinds is to reap as much benefit and riches while they can, as somehow, in the back of their mind, their subconscious depict that despite their own belief in the bull shits, nothing beats having more money than anything.
     
  14. streetsmart73

    streetsmart73 Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    hi there


    1. aiyoh!
    2. clowns, crying things, dafter sheep, snakes & idiots.
    3. don't change spots mah:D
    4. the art of listening, my foot:p
     
  15. Rogue Trader

    Rogue Trader Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    In a scholar's aircon office. Where his/her framed A level cert and Cambridge degree hang over the wall.

    Usually in three steps:

    1. The new policy is first sent to straits times to be announced.

    2. In parliament, 2 Pap MPs will be tasked to write speeches expressing their "concern". But usually these concerns raised will be demolished by a Minister or DPM when he delivers the wrap up speech. And the bill will be passed.

    3. Finally, the ex MM will make a public appearance during a corporate event to give his hard truth (insult) or worst case scenario (threat) if the policy is not implemented.

    Case closed.
     
  16. Microsoft

    Microsoft Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Moi heard...dey work out de ans first b4 de question...:D
     
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  17. enterprise2

    enterprise2 Alfrescian Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Actually it was the slapping that did it and not this Con job verstion!
     
  18. Rogue Trader

    Rogue Trader Alfrescian (Inf)

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O

    Lee hsien loong's slap on Dana?
     
  19. streetsmart73

    streetsmart73 Alfrescian (InfP) Old Timer

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    Re: Heng Swee Keat: we really got listen to you during the Our Sinkie Conversation (O


    sop 101 dafter sheep!
     
  20. laksaboy

    laksaboy Alfrescian (Inf)

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