While i can understand why there is a growing opposing voice in the internet that is gathering momentum and the ruling party is worried about it, I believe the best way is to win these young people over through engagements and discussions. There is a need for greater ‘space’ to be given to the young people of Singapore. The convenient option of
letting the system run would no longer work. There will be more friction ahead, as netizens take on government for their policies and spending.
Government feedback and interactions with its people must move from the online space into physical space, where there are face-to-face meetings and discussions. We have to agree that online space is not the best means for critics to take on the government. But this is the only available form now for those who do not agree with the government.
There must be town hall style discussions, where Ministers, MPs and politicians of political parties can debate, interact and take on public views, and explain their positions on issues. These sessions can be recorded and aired on TV or internet. There can be live TV debates between politicians of the ruling party and other parties to allow alternative views to be presented. These options are always available.
The young Singaporeans today needs to be engaged. They look at the facts and make up their own minds. Their respects have to be earned by actions, and not through fears.
The current fear of this government is whether they would lose more seats in the coming General Election (GE). All activities by the current government seems to be revolved around GE: cooling off day, managing the YOG critics and National Day Rally speech. One of their specified fears would be how to ensure that younger voters do not vote against them. I certainly have one recommendation: stop using ways to suppress the voices of the young people, engaged by opening up avenues for 2-way interactions, and the use of “fear tactics” would not work on this group of people.
For me, my fear is a weakening US economy and a growing possibility of a double dip recession. The challenges for Singapore in the next few years are still not clearly debated in the parliament and discussed with the people of Singapore. My fear is what will happen to the economy if we have another round of economic downturn. We could be sandwiched by negative GDP growth and high commodities’ costs. What will happen to the ordinary people in the street – specifically those who are already finding it hard to make ends meet? What will happen to our property prices?
Chinese citizens have been advised to buy gold for fear of weakening US dollars. Tony Robbins (http://emini-watch.com/recession-or-depression-tony-robbins-warning/1110/) has just warned about another round of stock price correction in Wall Street. How would that affect our GIC and Temasek investments?
My fear is that our young people should be speaking up more. The above pointers I have highlighted are brought up by people I know who are in their 20s & 30s. The last thing we need is to suppress their thoughts and mute their voices. My fear is that the growing opposing voice is unhealthy for nation building. We need to move to live TV debates and town hall meetings. Give the younger generation the space, I believe we will have a stronger Singapore, because we are prepared to discuss our fears openly face-to-face, and to think of better policies and ideas that can make Singapore a better place.
Afternote: MHA has clarified that “ST report gave the impression that Mr Abdul Malik Mohammed Ghazali was arrested by the police for making anti-Youth Olympic Games (YOG) remarks. This is completely wrong. He was arrested for posting public comments that could incite violence and lead to public disorder and a breach of peace, such as his call to burn a government minister.” on 4 Sep 2010 (http://www.straitstimes.com/STForum/Story/STIStory_574614.html). I wished this clarification would have been made earlier. With this, I have made some changes to this article. I like to thank those who have given me their comments.