Chance for govt to host holistic debates

Associate professor Teo You Yenn called for a look at the bigger picture when mitigating inequality (Learning from the past to resolve the inequality problem; July 17).

This is a very timely reminder that we cannot resolve systemic issues in isolation.

In addition to her call for us to take a step back and look at intertwining factors at play, I urge all interested parties in the debate to adopt an approach called "system thinking".

According to TechTarget, system thinking is defined as "a holistic approach to analysis that focuses on the way that a system's constituent parts interrelate and how systems work over time and within the context of larger systems".

Putting this into practice, we ought to focus on the diversity of profiles and disciplines of experts when engaging in debates in order to ensure that the systemic issue of inequality can be mitigated holistically. Indeed, the call by the Government to evolve the public service from a "whole-of-government" to a "whole-of-nation" approach echoes this (More diverse skills needed for public service: Chan Chun Sing; July 8).

This letter is a call for the Government to be the moderator and host - rather than the regulator or censor - to these debates, and to lead the way by creating the conditions for such meaningful debates.

A society may be brimming with ideas, but little can be done without leadership to direct the energy and ideas towards a common goal.

Jackson Lian

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Chance for govt to host holistic debates'. Print Edition | Subscribe