Singapore Together: A new way forward?

Singapore Together: Redefining the national conversation

Is the latest citizen engagement exercise just another national conversation? Insight looks at why it's set to be different this time.

Insight looks at how this particular outreach is poised to be a sea change in these exercises, why there is a need for new ways to create policy and build trust amid Singapore's changing electorate, and what an expanded "democracy of deeds" - a theme
Insight looks at how this particular outreach is poised to be a sea change in these exercises, why there is a need for new ways to create policy and build trust amid Singapore's changing electorate, and what an expanded "democracy of deeds" - a theme in Mr Heng Swee Keat's outline - could look like.ST ILLUSTRATION: CHNG CHOON HIONG
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that he and other ministers would work with Singaporeans to design and implement solutions across a wider range of issues and policy areas.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that he and other ministers would work with Singaporeans to design and implement solutions across a wider range of issues and policy areas.ST FILE PHOTO

In 1991, then Acting Minister for Information and the Arts George Yeo likened the state to a large banyan tree whose reach was so extensive, few other organisms could take root: "The problem now is that under the banyan tree very little else can grow. When state institutions are too pervasive, civic institutions cannot thrive. It's necessary to prune the banyan trees so other plants can grow."

But now it's 2019 and other plants have indeed grown. In fact, there is a variety of civic group "species" ranging from nature and heritage, to gender equality and animal rights.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 14, 2019, with the headline 'Redefining the national conversation'. Subscribe