Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat's recent announcement that the fourth-generation leadership will launch a series of discussions with different groups in society is an opportunity for Singaporeans to get to know their future leaders better. It is interesting that the announcement was made by Mr Heng, who helmed the Our Singapore Conversation series. That consultative exercise, initiated in August 2012, involved more than 47,000 Singaporeans in over 660 dialogue sessions across the country. It is not known yet how many will participate this time and what form the discussions will take. But the upcoming series should not be measured by, or be seen as a remake of, that exercise.
There is a similarity of approach, but there are key differences. One of note is that the process will be driven entirely by those who, in all likelihood, will be at the helm of the country for the foreseeable future.The new dialogue series is an occasion for the 4G leaders to lay out their vision, listen to views, and to coalesce and build a partnership with Singaporeans. The Singapore Conversation series was held with a view to having Singaporeans come forward and speak about where they think the country should be headed. That objective will remain an integral part of this new series. But the political framework is different now. Leadership transition is under way and public expectations must resonate with a new team emerging to take on key leadership roles.