It was touted as the conversation for all Singaporeans to have a say in what kind of future they want for Singapore and their children. This is as national as it could get. Somehow the other part of Singapore is not being represented, the political oppositions that don’t agree with the govt’s point of view. The fact that none of them seems to be included or invited to join the conversation is beginning to tell. You cannot have a National Conversation by excluding 40 per cent or more of the population to call it a National Conversation.
And as some bloggers have pointed out, it has drifted towards a conversation of the converts, of the ‘safe’ people who share the same belief and ideology of the govt, of what the govt thinks is good for the whole population.
What makes this task predictable is that the converts would agree with the agenda and would not stray to topics or issues that have been OB marked. Some things are just not meant to be discussed and have already been pronounced as good forever, despite the claims of no stone unturned.
The National Conversation is looking like a divisive conversation dividing the ‘with us and the against us’, but including some the fence sitters. The eventual recommendations will not be too far off from the findings of the Ministerial Salary Review Committee, a recommendation that is expected and put up by like minded people. How different the recommendations would be if the members were neutral and have no political affiliation or interests.
And, how different would the findings of a committee and audience in this National Conversation when the composition of the participants already in a big way predetermined the agenda and the outcome? The future that is desired would be very similar to the future envisaged by the govt, more immigrants, bigger population, more growth, work till one drops dead, higher property prices, higher cost of living, no free lunch with some exceptions, and please, do talk or ask question about the CPF savings and its future.