This tag is associated with 29 posts

Ground Engagement Should Be The Norm For Politicians And Civil Servants

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

Government Communication Remains A Challenge

Four years later, a 30 per cent water tariff increase is announced at Budget 2017, and again the prime minister is acknowledging the government’s shortcomings in communication. “Before announcing the water hike last month, the government perhaps should have spent more time explaining the rationale and what it would be doing to help households cope” (Mar. 25, TODAY), and these remarks echo the frustration and the confusion when the White Paper was rolled out. Then, the 6.9 million figure dominated the discourse. Now, the 30 per cent figure is doing the same. Even if Singaporeans are cognisant of the policy need for the hike – that prices have not gone up since 2000, or that infrastructure investments are expensive, for instance – the details are lost in the noise. Few paid attention to the hike over two phases, or the assistance rendered to the lower-income households too. Continue reading

For Community Engagement, Both The Government And Citizens Matter

Few will disagree with the proposition that community engagement, when done effectively, could reduce groupthink within the public sector, increase policy engagement and discussions among citizens, and improve government legitimacy (TODAY, Oct. 21). Already the government touts its plethora of endeavours in recent years, such as Our Singapore Conversation and the SGfuture as indications of its willingness to listen to Singaporeans, and on the other hand Singaporeans are banding in civil society groups and through online platforms to get perspectives across. Yet the next question – which I think is tougher to answer – is how effective engagement can be achieved. Continue reading

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