As a Singaporean who keeps track of local politics, I get very skeptical everytime the mainstream media reports on local politics.
Just yesterday, Channel NewsAsia aired Singapore’s first ‘Political Forum’ in years whereby the ruling party had 2 representatives to debate with 4 opposition candidates from Singapore Democratic Alliance, Singapore People’s Party, Singapore Democratic Party and Worker’s Party.
I failed to catch the full hour-long programme but in the last 20 minutes of the show that I caught, I can’t help but feel that perhaps the forum was a tool devised by CNA to help the ruling party regain public confidence.
Such forums should be done yearly as it is exactly the kind of debate that Singaporeans need to see and hear in parliament rather than as a tool to garner votes through raising up confidence in the public which has grown skeptic of the government’s policies – and this would perhaps be the underlying objectives of the programme itself.
I’m saying this simply because CNA had placed restrictions on the opposition parties as to who should be allowed to represent the party – participating candidates. That instantaneously ruled out SDP’s Dr Chee Soon Juan who would have been a very interesting figure to listen to.
Another point to note as well from the programme was perhaps some parties had decided to not send their best candidates as a tactic to keep their cards close to the chest, which is probably why we didn’t see the likes of Low Thia Khiang, Sylvia Lim, Chiam See Tong or Desmond Lim – the very people who would be very vocal in expressing their views.
The programme was at best as I mentioned earlier, “a tool to garner votes through raising up confidence in the public which has grown skeptic of the government’s policies”.
I may be wrong but I am entitled to my own personal opinions and judgements based on what I observed and knowing myself, I have very little doubt over my observation skills. A slight error of margin could be permitted but such is my observation and opinion.
What the forum has served is to assist the ruling party, to explain its’ policies since the opposition parties were expressing their views and alternative policies as moderated. Without the forum, most Singaporeans would have remained in the dark.
Whilst I believe that the ruling party will still be ruling the country from the next election, I hope that CNA will maintain this programme as a platform to allow opposition parties to debate outside of parliament with the policy makers themselves. This will allow Singaporeans to have a continuous understanding behind government policies as well as allow Singaporeans to see who are the other alternative candidates/voices out there who will fight and defend for their rights.
But of course, if such a programme was allowed to continue, the ruling party could lose more than stand to gain since most of their policies are unpopular and not supported by many Singaporeans.