The recent focus on ground engagement among politicians and civil servants – to “go out and engage stakeholders and Singaporeans” (ST, Nov. 22) and to develop and nurture “a consultative relationship between the government and citizens” (ST, Nov. 22) – is odd not because of its importance in the context of increasingly complex governance demands, but because it might have been assumed that it should be or that it is already the norm. Central to policymaking is an understanding of the problems and how they are perceived by the individuals affected by them, and these interactions with constituents are especially important if the politicians and civil servants hail from different demographic or socio-economic backgrounds, and therefore have dissimilar perspectives and life experiences. Continue reading
Singapore’s opposition parties need what they have always needed, with or without a coalition: A coherent political message, quality candidates, and long-term engagement on the ground. Parallels drawn to political developments in Malaysia (TODAY, Aug. 5) – especially when they are hastily or selectively drawn, such as that between Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and former presidential candidate Tan Cheng Bock, should the latter decide to lead the seven-party opposition coalition in Singapore – do not change the formula. In addition to differences in the socio-political circumstances of both countries, the most important distinction is that unlike the opposition parties in Singapore, the component parties of Malaysia’s political coalition Pakatan Harapan have had a much longer and more sustained history of actual parliamentary victory and experience. Continue reading
Singaporean demand for the programmes and services of charities – especially with an ageing population, changing social and family dynamics, and cognisance of a persistent class divide – is set to increase, yet the discourse on improvements to the charity sector has not kept pace.
And in this vision of a transformed and transformative charity sector in Singapore, three core changes are welcomed: More baselining, more need-based and forward-looking collaborations, and more effective intermediaries. Continue reading