Friday, 10 August 2012

Rethink Committee or another NUS-Yale or Feedback Unit?

A rethink or re-look committee to be headed by Heng Swee Keat has just been announced.   It is too early to judge its effectiveness. But from the past experience, it will more look the liberal thinking or looking of NUS-Yale College or worst the rubber stamping of Feedback Unit.    

“Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Education Minister Heng Swee Keat will chair a committee of younger ministers to take a fresh look at current policies in his National Day Message today.
In a separate statement, Mr Heng said his team will engage Singaporeans in a "broader conversation" on where Singapore should be in the future, rather than specific tweaks to particular polices. 
While what the committee would cover - or what it would be called - has not been specified, the aim of this initiative is to foster a shared understanding of the challenges and aspirations for the country. “(8 Aug 2012 asiaone.com.sg)
Is there any national committee that the government set up in the past does not have the meaning of “a shared understanding of the challenges and aspirations for the country.”? From Economic Committee in the 1980s to the recent one, which one is not calling for understanding, challenges and aspirations?

The question is: how do we finally reach the shared understanding? And are these understandings really the challenges and aspirations for the country? A shared understanding or national consensus can be another PR or even the manifesto of the PAP in the next election. The best it could be is just like another option for voters to decide.  As a result, whether voters buy the idea of ‘shared understanding’ or not is a challenge to the government.   

NUS-Yale wants to bring in the shared understanding of liberal arts education to Singapore. It has restricted political activities, even local politics. Can it help to produce a shared value and understanding for Singapore under a restricted environment?

Not to mention the Feedback Unit or People’s Association, the shared understanding they collected are all one-side stories. Hence, the shared Singapore understanding cannot ignore the 40% in GE2011 or 65% in the PE2011.  

Will Heng’s committee have the shared understanding including:

Different and share
“National Day is an important time for us to reflect and think about how we have evolved into the Singapore we have today. It is especially important to remember our pioneer generation… Every Singaporean has something special to contribute to Singapore. We are all different. But what we share, is Singapore as our home. And home, is where the heart is.” (WP National Day Message)
Active role and different direction
<…Today, health care and housing costs are spiralling; retirement in Singapore is getting harder with an ever increasing CPF minimum sum; the elderly are expected to work well past the normal retirement age, often on low salaries. And yet we Singaporeans are expected to get things done as cheaply as possible. We cannot expect productivity to grow like this.Is this the kind of Singapore that our forefathers worked so hard for? Is this the kind of Singapore you desire for yourselves or your children?We Singaporeans must play a more active role to influence national policies. At times, we need to fight for a different direction for our country. For a start, you can speak up about dated policies that no longer work….> (SPP National Day Message)
Work harder for caring and democracy
<In this year’s National Day message, the Singapore Democrats call on Singaporeans to work even harder for a caring and democratic nation.> (SDP National Day Message)

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