Monday, January 28, 2013

How an alternative government can run Singapore

I wish to give a scenario in the future, where an alternative government is elected to run Singapore. While it create chaos? Will Singapore's future be damaged?

Let me first state that this scenario is not likely to happen in the foreseeable future. But in risk management, it is better to prepare for this scenario. And, if the unexpected happens, we do not need to panic.

Let us look at the example in Hong Kong when the British had over the government in 1997 to Communist China. Did Hong Kong collapsed? It did not. In fact, Hong Kong continued to prosper and to find a better solution for its people.

Let us go back to 1957, when the Peoples Action Party took power in Singapore, with the backing of the left wing faction. The leaders were inexperienced in government at that time. We found the right approach that suits our circumstances then, and made our progress.

The lessons to be learned from both examples are:

a) Keep close to the ground
b) Tackle the problems that affect the people most
c) Do not be afraid to use talents external to your political party

A new government is more likely to abandon the old policies that have failed and to try new policies. The incumbent will continue to stay with the old policies, hoping to "tweak" and "calibrate" to make them work, often without success.

Here is a practical solution for a new government that do not have experienced ministers. They can form an advisory committee for each minister.

The members can be drawn from people who have vast experience in the domain, and do not have any existing vested interest. They could be civil servants, business, political or social leaders who have since retired and now have time to give their counsel.

In America, the President formed a council of economic advisers to advise him on economic matters, and a national security council to advice him on security matters.  This can be a good model for the advisory council for our "inexperienced" minister.

I suggest that this approach can also be adopted by our current government, under the Peoples Action Party. They have to find new ministers all the time. These new ministers are inexperienced in their ministries. They can benefit from the experience and wisdom of the people recruited into the advisory council. This could be a good way for changes to be made.

The advisory council should be permanent, but the members can be changed from time to time. A standing council, rather than an ad-hoc committee, will be able to advice the minister more effectively.

1 comment:

yujuan said...

PAP has difficulty attracting good men from a diverse industry background, and taking in too many Army men and civil servants lead to inbreeding and same groupthink behaviour.
"We have zero tolerance for this and that" and the threat to sue civilian critics display the classical style of governance of a CO in an Army camp meting out orders to a Platoon, "Just do what I say, no questions asked, understand?" And they expect to hear a meek "Yes Sir." Full stop, and in the process creativity and initiative get killed, both on the CO and the people ruled.
So the country stagnate lah.

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