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The NTUC Conversation: Our Obsession With The Tangibles

If you’ve attended the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) sessions – especially those in the second phase (at least for me, here) – you would’ve noticed the facilitators emphasising how the feedback will be taken down dutifully by the scribes, before the perspectives are communicated to the relevant ministries and bureaucrats. The intent, of course, is to convince participants that their suggestions are taken very seriously, and that these suggestions will play a considerable role when policy recommendations are crafted.

Sounds good, right?

But the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), in the perceived spirit of one-upmanship, has decided that it would collect the contributions “in an aide memoire, or memory aid, in the form of a booklet which … will [be] distribute[d] to policymakers”. Whatever for, one wonders. I reckon it is a little fallacious to think that participants will only remember their stake in the conversation and this country if they have “a scrapbook of memories”.

A redundant and ostentatious endeavour, in my opinion.

Not only will these “records of engagement” be disseminated to the participants of the dialogues (I would presume), at a concluding session, “the three artefacts will [also] be presented to Education Minister Heng Swee Keat”. Sounds like nothing more than wayang to me, particularly if the substantive points from the exchanges would have been collated and submitted to the national agencies anyway. Beyond the conventional criticisms of how wasteful (in terms of resources, and can the finances be put to better use) these publications will be, perhaps we should take a step back to remind ourselves of the motivations for the Singapore conversation. It is for Singaporeans to talk to Singaporeans, to articulate points of concern and ideas for socio-economic issues, and not an opportunity for associations to brag about the tangibles of their engagement efforts.

That being said, I would love to get my hands on one of these booklets when it is published (I am assuming the plan will proceed regardless of the criticisms)…

Taken from The Straits Times, May 18, 2013 (Putting the Singapore Conversation on Record).

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


6 thoughts on “The NTUC Conversation: Our Obsession With The Tangibles

  1. Let’s not kid ourselves. This government has no interest in a genuine conversation. This entire ‘Our Singapore Conversation’ is nothing more than a series of public lectures on how the government works and how to see things ‘in perspective’ (from the government’s perspective la! Wait, you didn’t actually think your perspective held ANY value in the govt’s eyes, did you?! No you couldn’t have… Why would they consult us on issues when they simply force-fed us a White Paper on issues of no less national significance than the degradation of the Singaporean Core and the erosion of our national identity?!).

    Gang rape results from democracy, so says he who rapes the Singaporean Core with invasive foreign elements.

    Posted by JoelJYYX | May 24, 2013, 1:25 pm
  2. What has NTUC got to do with OCS. Only 40 people attended? Is this the sample size out from millions. Not representative at all and probably a waste of time to even have this platform to formulate any constructive decisions and policies.

    I attended one of a series of surveys last year in Sydney commissioned by the government on Singaporeans living overseas. I believe this was also conducted in Melbourne and the USA as we were told.

    The issues at hand were to find out the number of reasons preventing Singaporeans living overseas from returning. The reasons given by the group were unanimous. Quality of life, opportunities and equality were lacking in comparison. And very significantly, everyone was quite apprehensive to open up until we were assured our comments and input will not be used against us.

    There was no lecture or prejudices by the moderator. That was very professional and the conversations cruised through without any doubt about the sentiments as presented on the table.

    Just thought I should share my views, although brief but maybe more effective.

    Posted by Asim | May 24, 2013, 3:56 pm


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