SINGAPORE: The national conversation will move into its next phase of discussions in the later part of November.
Committee member of the Our Singapore Conversation, Mr Lawrence Wong, said that in the next few weeks, the committee will start looking at some of the themes that have emerged from the dialogue sessions held so far.
Mr Wong, who is the Senior Minister of State for Education and Information, Communications and the Arts, gave this update at a citizen dialogue session on Saturday.
He said that even though the dialogue will be more focused, it will still be broad enough for rich discussions to continue.
"So it’s not about filtering out ideas when I say we are going into a more thematic phase, but it’s going from a more organic, open, unstructured process, starting to cluster the ideas, starting to put them into broad themes, then going more in depth into these themes. Then you have even more richer discussions within these themes," said Mr Wong.
He also commented on the decision of The Workers’ Party (WP) not to participate in the national conversation.
WP chairman Sylvia Lim had said these citizen discussions would be "better served" without the presence of its leaders, as they would be linked to the party even if invited in their personal capacity.
Responding to questions from reporters on this, Mr Wong said he values the participation from the WP and hopes it will reconsider its decision.
"No one has a monopoly of wisdom. Everyone comes in as an individual contributing his view and every view is important. The more we have people participating in this process, the richer are our discussions. I see value in all Singaporeans participating in this process regardless of their political affiliation. This is not a debate in politics, this is a national conversation about the future of Singapore," he said.
However, Mr Wong was encouraged to note there are other opposition parties who are open to participate in the conversation. National Solidarity Party secretary—general Hazel Poa has indicated interest.
Dialogue participants on Saturday came from diverse backgrounds, each eager to have a say in shaping the future of Singapore.
Nicholas Tan, 26, wants to make "kiasuism" or the fear of losing obsolete.
"One of the things we talked about was actually Mr Kiasu, remembering Mr Kiasu, when I was a kid reading the comic book. We want to say goodbye Mr Kiasu, and hello Mr Gracious!" he said.
Zunaidah Shahul Hamid, 48, hopes education can be a theme in the next phase of the conversation.
"What I want to see my daughters have in the years to come is an overall development in terms of being passionate about learning, passionate about people they’re with, and very much grounded in values," he said.
The national conversation is expected to culminate in the middle of next year when it moves into the third phase where programmes and policies will be reviewed.
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