I thought this document from our Ministry of Social and Family Development about Singapore’s social compact is really interesting. It neatly articulates many challenging issues and dilemmas that policy makers have, and also the challenge to try and articulate decisions made. I think our approaches in terms of communication has become more complex over time as Singaporeans demand more sensibility and sensitivity from our government.
Shanmugam’s conversation on BBC Hardtalk Podcast itself is probably a best practice for Singaporeans and politicians in Singapore representing our country and the social dimension of the approaches we have taken. At the same time, we must not shy away from asking these hard questions and to get an account of why we are doing things the way we do. We as a society cannot be relying on foreign countries to try and ask our government these questions; we ourselves have to be the ones asking that as a society.
Maybe sometimes we are afraid that there are no answers or solutions; but that’s not the point of the discussion. To bring up what is perceived as a problem is the first step to possibly resolving the knots that we have in our hearts. What our government cannot do is to say that they have better things to do than to answer the pesky questions of citizens. Or that these questions stand in the way of a better, harmonious society. Typically they don’t.