~ TOC Editorial ~
April 2012 will forever be remembered as arguably the most significant milestone month in Singapore's online media landscape.
No, it has nothing to do with TOC's indulgence with its April Fool's joke, much as we wish our sense of humour is that well liked. It also has nothing to do with what would likely be the first physical gathering of bloggers to boo down the proposed Internet code of conduct, courtesy of the Institute of Policy Studies.
Indeed, the milestone comes from our political elite, infamous for its many blunders and politically-suicidal antics online.
This April, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made waves online when he launched his Facebook page and attracted more than 40,000 fans within days.
By this count, it would seem that the PM himself has not only checked the box, but now sets the gold standard for one of his promises following General Elections 2011 – to engage more online.
But one wonders if he is engaging the online community, or merely engaging online. Has he fully exploited a highly interactive platform, or is he (or the Prime Minister's Office) still using it as an information/ ideology dissemination tool?
It is clear that PM is receiving a mass influx of comments on various issues. Nobody is expecting the PMO to handle all of them, so he was right in making a clarification post to say he has forwarded these citizen concerns to his Ministers – a positive step forward, as it (minimally and finally) acknowledges that online comments can be valid.
But one critical aspect of online engagement is transparency – at least in terms of the willingness to close the feedback loop. Not all of his Ministers are as willing to engage online. What have they done with these comments, and does having PM as mediator help facilitate the resolution of these issues?
If you have been one of those whose views have been flagged for attention to a Minister by PM Lee, we will like to hear from you about your experience. Let us know what has happened since, by adding your comments to this page.
Regardless, this move at the highest level of political leadership will be seen as a positive start for the online presence of the People's Action Party. But governance is not just about putting you photo online and letting it make friends with other photos.
Governance is about working the ground of your constituency to understand citizen issues, raising citizen concerns in parliament, and translating these concerns into policy formulation. Always in that order, but not always involving all components, which then depends on whether you are a Member of Parliament or a Minister.
So, as part of our "GE2011 One Year On" series, we would like to hear from you about how you think your elected representative has performed. But lets do it with a twist: Visit our Facebook discussion page, and submit an award nomination!
Most Cyber-Engaged Minister. Best Spectator in Parliament MP. Most Well-Walked for Walkabouts MP. Lifetime Achiever for Talking Down Singaporeans Minister. Whatever your peeve, whatever your pick, from the serious to the wackier, from any political party you care for, we want your submissions. Add a description to justify your choice, and we might just put it into our honour roll at the end of the week!
But we will not just let you do the thinking. On 7 May 2012, TOC will be running three commentaries on the three political parties currently represented in Parliament – PAP, WP and SPP. We will take a look at what they have done the past year, and if they have delivered on what they have promised based on their existing presence in Parliament.
Watch this space.
The PAP – facing its new mandate by Ghui
The SPP – After Potong Pasir by Benjamin Cheah