Sunday, May 27, 2018

A new way to listen to the people

Are the PAP leaders really interested to listen to the people?

They like to hold a "conversation" with invited people conversing with a minister, and more probably a potential prime minister. How many people can this minister handle at a time? 30? 50? 100? How many people can speak at a time?

Who are the invited people? Are they willing to be frank and speak what they truly feel? Will they exercise self censorship in the glare of the limelight?

Can the minister truly listen? Does the minister know what is listening?

Are the ministers aware that we are in the era of the internet and social media? This era presents a more productive way to have a conversation. How can it be done?

The government can appoint a small staff to look for views expressed through the internet. There are many views expressed by thinking people who have some useful points to make. Some of them expressed the views using their own names, others do it anonymously.

The staff can contact these people through the social media and ask them to contact the staff at their email or telephone numbers.

Most of the contributor are likely to respond, as they wanted their views to be heard in the first place. During the ensuing conversation, the staff can write a fuller description of the issue. They can present the issue to the relevant minister.

It will be better if these issues can be posted in the internet, so that the public can read about them.

Using this approach, it is possible to cast the net to many thousand times of the people that participate in an invited conversation. it could reach out to 1 million people or more.

It may be possible to have 100 of these issues posted every day.

The relevant ministers can read these issues and give a telephone call to some contributors and an acknowledgementto the others. Each minister needs only to converse with a small handful each day.

After the conversation, the minister could give a reply in the same platform. This reply should reflect the minister's understanding of the issue. This is what "listening" is about. The minister does not need to "explain" the current policy or to make any decision to change the policy. He or she only needs to promise to "think about it".

If the minister truly understands the concern, and truly seeks a solution, a few of these concerns will be translated into real change in policy. This would make the next "Singapore Conversation" a success.

Do you agree?

Tan Kin Lian

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