Saturday 27 October 2012

WP leaders won't join national conversation

Citizen discussions 'better served' without their presence: Sylvia Lim
By Andrea Ong, The Straits Times, 26 Oct 2012

LEADERS from the Workers' Party (WP) will not take part in the ongoing national conversation dialogues, said party chairman Sylvia Lim yesterday.

These citizen discussions would be "better served" without the presence of WP leaders, who would be linked to the party even if invited in their personal capacity, she said.

Ms Lim noted that the national conversation is meant for citizens to discuss their vision for Singapore and what matters most to Singaporeans.

"It is our view that the citizen dialogue sessions as currently proposed are better served without the presence of WP leaders, who would be assumed to represent the party even if invited as individuals," she said in response to a query from The Straits Times.

Ms Lim confirmed she was invited to the first Our Singapore Conversation dialogue on Oct 13. She said she did not attend because of earlier commitments.

The e-mail invitation "was addressed to 'Dear Sir/Madam' and stated that I had expressed interest to participate in the Our Singapore Conversation citizen dialogue", said Ms Lim. "I was puzzled to receive it, as I had not contacted anyone about the Conversation."

Ms Lim was among three opposition politicians who were invited. The other two were the WP's MP for Hougang Png Eng Huat and National Solidarity Party (NSP) secretary-general Hazel Poa. None attended.

Ms Poa, however, said she intends to attend a dialogue next month, after work commitments kept her from the first.

"Any citizen would be keen to have an opportunity to engage the Government in a frank conversation... to positively influence the way our country develops, and to exchange ideas with other Singaporeans," she said. "I am no different."

She hopes her status as an opposition politician will not affect how the organisers receive her views.

Both Ms Lim and Ms Poa said their parties would continue engaging Singaporeans.

Ms Lim said the WP will engage the Government and people through all appropriate platforms and channels to promote Singaporeans' well-being - "regardless of whether we are involved in the national conversation or any other dialogue".

The NSP intends to produce a series of reports called My Singapore to explore issues. It has begun conducting the first survey on identity, population and manpower online and in door-to-door interviews.

The opposition's involvement in the national conversation has been raised several times online, in the media and at forums, since the committee overseeing the exercise was unveiled last month.

Some criticised the committee for not including opposition politicians, while others have asked why those invited to the first dialogue did not attend.

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