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Parliament: NMP Laurence Lien champions stronger civil society

Published on May 27, 2014 2:51 PM
 
Mr Laurence Lien, chief executive of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre and Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), speaking during a parliament session on 7 February 2013. Singapore should encourage citizens to contribute more to society and take greater ownership of social issues, even if this comes with some dissent, urged Nominated Member of Parliament Laurence Lien in Parliament on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM TV 

SINGAPORE - Singapore should encourage citizens to contribute more to society and take greater ownership of social issues, even if this comes with some dissent, urged Nominated Member of Parliament Laurence Lien in Parliament on Tuesday.

"Increasingly, politics is also about engendering co-ownership so that the creative energies of people that are harnessed, even if they have a few sharp edges," he said in Parliament.

For this to happen, safe environments for debate and a greater willingness to accommodate diverse viewpoints are needed.

Singapore can embrace 'more deliberative form of democracy' where the Government, private sector and civil society meet as equals and propose and justify decisions that are generally acceptable, said Mr Lien.

This is why strengthening Singapore's civil society is in its long-term national interest: "We need all our engines - not just the government and private sector engines - firing," said Mr Lien, who is chief executive of the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre.

He went on to dispel the notion that civil society is about government-bashing and navel-gazing. Instead, " civil society should just be about citizenship - ordinary citizens doing their part to help with the social and economic progress of our nation," said Mr Lien.

Constructive politics is therefore "not just about debating, deciding on specific policies and then moving ahead as one united people to implement the programmes", said Mr Lien.

He was giving his take on the House's ongoing debate about what 'constructive politics' means for Singapore, after President Tony Tan Keng Yam spoke on the issue on May 16.

"It is about nurturing a mutually trusting relationship, where everyone has a stake in creating a home that they love and continually care for," he said.

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