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)…