I spent some time listening to what George Yeo had to say about Singapore and his conception of cities. I found his insights incisive and pretty valuable for Singaporeans who are serious about creating a future for our nation. It’s great that we do have people like him, Ho Kwon Ping, Han Fook Kwang, who are providing valuable thoughts to challenge our country to do better and to consider our circumstances with new perspective. I’m thankful also for the presence of Institute of Policy Studies and the work they do in creating such open conversation.
Whilst I had the fortune of spending a few years in Chinese High where such open dialogues about the policies and approaches in school were welcomed, even embraced, I also went through a period where the administration became defensive, practiced “open conversations” merely in name. Town halls that I experienced in my subsequent work life mirrors those assemblies that I had in school. I don’t know how much of my generation was brought up to think and question status quo in these ways, and I fear that as a consequence, such open, public dialogues and airing of intellectual views are going to be limited.
My generation have gotten used to the notion of “open dialogues” or town halls being peddled around as part of our cultural value but what is truly expressed tends to be the suppression of dissent, and questioning of people’s motives for genuine questions asked. I wonder, how many more loving critics (as Prof Tommy Koh would put it) have the courage to emerge as the baton of our country’s leadership gets passed on to the new generation.