Healthy to question long-held assumptions

While we should not mindlessly question the Government, there should be recognition that debates in Singapore polity have moved from technical disagreements over different policies into assumptions, values, beliefs and ultimate goals that underpin policies (Don't mindlessly question Govt, by Mr Phillip Tan Fong Lip; Feb 26).

Certain assumptions, like Singapore's exceptionalism, vulnerability and elite governance, may be fraying or even outdated. Debates hitherto have been framed to justify the status quo rather than encourage deeper, more robust discussions of alternatives.

But a new generation of Singaporeans empowered by social media has emerged in the last decade to question long-held assumptions.

This is healthy and will lead to a new consensus being forged through the democratic process - with debate and compromise - rather than imposition from on high.

In this political "new normal", the Government should create the conditions for Singapore to become a healthy, thriving democracy that protects the contest of ideas and even allows dissent to flourish.

The end result can then be a wider range of credible policy and political alternatives which can aid governance and foster trust.

But this will require much institutional, democratic and policy reforms on the part of the Government.

Wong Horng Ginn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'Healthy to question long-held assumptions'. Print Edition | Subscribe