SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) has for the first time involved non—members in their party dialogue, of which findings would be presented at a party seminar on Saturday.
The seminar, a first of its kind, will discuss Singapore’s future and is held one week ahead of its biennial party conference on 2 December.
According to PAP, up to a third of some 1,000 people involved in the dialogue were non—members.
Mr Chan Chun Sing, a member of the party’s Central Executive Committee, said it is the first time an internal party debate involves non—members on this scale.
He said: "The substance of what we do has not changed, which is to constantly trawl and find better ideas. But the way we do it will evolve with the times. And times have changed. People don’t just want to know there are debates, they want to see it, hear it and participate in it. So we adjust accordingly."
"We talk about engagement, so everything has to start internally," Mr Chan added.
"Our own people must be energised; they have to believe in the process. So we must have that robust system within the party to do this. We should also allow Singaporeans to know that the party is not so monolithic."
The open—ended dialogue process was also a departure from previous, more functional party dialogues, said Mr Chan.
Party activists say that the frequency of dialogue has increased since the 2011 general election, where the PAP saw its lowest vote share since independence.
For party member Eunice Chia’s group, the discussion focused on how the party could re—position and re—energise itself to bring Singapore forward in the next 20 to 50 years.
"We talked a lot about what we were previously, and how we need to anchor ourselves in our firm beliefs and core values in order to bring us forward," she said.
"One core value we have is meritocracy. But can we update meritocracy, and not be so hard and fast about being meritocratic in achieving certain things?"
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