Don’t turn the National Conversation into another Singapore GRC. Otherwise, it will be an exercise to further dividing Singapore and disuniting the society.
However, it seems it is going like the GRC-way. The GRC-way of debating Singapore’s future has turned bigger and bigger and like, the political GRC, from 5 or 6-man teams it now consists of the whole of Singapore.
Through National Conversation, the discussions, the dialogues and the feedbacks will look like the whole country is involved and the so- called consensuses agreed upon are representing all Singaporeans.
As we all know to win a GRC, a team needs only 50.1% to take all the contested seats in the GRC. There is no proportional representation in the GRC. So, in this case, the National Conversation needs only 50.1% of Singaporeans in agreeing with the consensuses. If it is true, then the National Conversation is just an instrument to mislead and misguide the country’s future.
The worst situation is it will move the country to a higher stage of division and disunity, from an already divided society after GE2011 and PE2011.
Consistently, there is a “certain percentage” of the population is not participating in the national building in the past (we may use the percentage voted against the PAP in the past elections as a simple indication). Their ideas, preferred life style, alternative views are not incorporated into the planning of Singapore.
However, this coming National Conversation is different.
In the past, this “certain percentage” is mainly due to some particular reasons, e.g. Chinese language issue, lower income, less educated, anti-ISA and heavily influenced (but dislike) by the main stream media.
The new “certain percentage” or new members to the “certain percentage” is different in a way that they are better educated, have better income, younger, knowledgeable and less likely to be influenced by MSM. These new members even include PAP supporters who prefer the old PAP in the 1960s and 1970s and even agree with the existence of ISA or other high-handed policies. They even include new citizens who are not happy with the government. So, it is a very diverse, complicated, wide-ranging new “certain percentage”.
It will be very difficult to get a national consensus under the GRC-type of National Conversation. Intentionally and unintentionally, this “certain percentage” will not be proportionally represented. To show the face of consensus, some members in the “certain percentage” will be shown to the public, especially in the MSM. They are encouraged to join the conservation selectively and can voice their suggestions freely.
But how to get the “die-hard”, new and old, to be represented in the National Conversation is a great challenge to Hang Swee Keat.
Perhaps, like all other past exercises of the PAP government, a national consensus is just a simple majority, a GRC-type of consensus. Otherwise, a magician may be needed to carry out the job of a National ‘consensus’ Conversation.