1. The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) seems poised to continue its methodology of churning out policy proposals (based, I suppose, on its manifesto from the previous General Election). A number of the speakers went into great lengths about healthcare and the SDP National Healthcare Plan, which I thought was a good continuation from its recent public consultation activities. The representatives also touched on important aspects about other relevant recommendations, and SDP’s desire to postulate necessary reforms.
These were – and will be – good moves, and I believe that this is a constructive strategy in the long term, especially if you take into consideration the reservations some Singaporeans have had (here) about the party’s methodologies in the past.
2. I was, however, less than impressed by the quality and structure of the speeches (I left after Dr. Juwita Rahmat’s speech, which means that I missed Dr. Vincent Wijeysingha’s).
I had two main gripes: first, speakers focused disproportionately (to drum up enthusiasm amongst the crowd) on the problems of the status quo perpetuated by the “policy inertia” of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), and thus there was a strange sense of déjà vu (it felt like the speeches and rallies from the 2011 General Election, especially with the comments made passionately by Dr. Ang Yong Guan); second, there was no synergy between the speeches and individuals (even though Dr. James Gomez did set the ground fairly well in the beginning), and I felt that Mr. Jufrie Mahmood in particular was just all over the place.
3. I was intrigued by the prospect of an education policy paper by the SDP, but Dr. Juwita’s speech was – unfortunately – largely underwhelming. She tried to cover too much ground with her perspectives, her criticisms were not organised coherently, her delivery was sub-par (but I give her the benefit of the doubt, given that it was her first speech attempt on such a scale), and I heard very little about the proposed solutions, if there were any. I had high expectations because of her background (here), but she was far from impressive.
I am a huge fan of Sir Ken Robinson and his presentations (I have watched his videos umpteen times, and have quoted him in my essays at work). I might be wrong, but I thought Dr. Juwita might have directly lifted a number of his expressions in her speech; for instance, the declarative statement that “creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status”. But that’s just me and my over-sensitivities, perhaps.
4. Will the SDP continue with these rallies, and could it consider other platforms beyond the Internet? I’m not too sure if these rallies are the best way to communicate policy recommendations and proposals, especially if you take into consideration the aforementioned shortcomings. I liked the engagement, but the SDP could consider complementing future sessions with the installation of exhibitions so as to communicate their proposals in a more succinct and persuasive manner. I reckon the necessity for these introductions would only increase, as the party seeks to delve into more socio-economic issues in the coming years.