Tuesday, 3 October 2023

We are shifting our daily news to Gutzy.Asia Support us there!

A letter from Jack

By Jack Sim –

The following is a letter from Jack Sim to our readers at TOC.  Jack is the founder of the Restroom Association of Singapore and the World Toilet Organization. He was recently the featured in a TOC report here.  

Hello Everyone,

We speak up because we love our country. Our intentions are good. By speaking up, we bring attention to neglected issues, service gaps, and other hot issues close to our hearts. We care enough to take the risk to surface the truth even though we know it might have repercussion on ourselves. But we only live once and it's better to take responsibility as a citizen to make a difference than to be indifferent.

Our voices get louder the longer when we are not heard. And eventually, shouting and tonality become harsh and rude when nobody is listening anymore.

Now let us pause for a moment and look at things from the government’s perspective. The government and the civil service are also interested in improving the country. They also have good intention. Sometimes there are different views in what defines progress and what improvement is but the intentions of both sides are aligned most of the time.

The largest problem is we lack effective communication channels and efficient dialogue. We still do not have good mechanism to handle citizen’s feedback. We also need moderators for a constructive conversation.

I spoke up recently at TOC and also made several comments on DPM Tharman's FaceBook which received enthusiastic responses. I asked to meet the DPM himself for a discussion and very pleasantly, he agreed and we met on 2 Oct evening for a friendly chat. 

He advised me that I would be more successful engaging the bureaucrats if I was more polite and stick to the facts. He reminded me that bureaucrats are human too and we should have mutual respect when seeking solutions.

I agreed with him but also told him that I was usually always polite during the first meeting. However, after many failed attempts things can become frustrating and my tone evolved accordingly to reflect the pain of the situation.

What we need is effective dialogue with mutually satisfying conclusions.

To cut a long story short, we agreed to “Reset” the relationship and go forward positively.

I agreed to send over all the proposals I had and DPM would find channels and mechanism to address them. If any of the proposals are not feasible, I'd be informed why and perhaps can adapt new solutions so that it might work better or to accept that the findings with better understanding and appreciation of the constraints.

The conversation with DPM was very satisfying for me and I hope it can serve as a model for other conversations from other citizens. I don't expect a Minister to meet every complainant personally but I think the opening up of dialogue channels and handling mechansim facilitating 2 ways communication is the solution to our current misunderstanding between government and people.

Some rules are needed to make this work: 

Identification of Problems should come with some Proposed Solutions to start the process of responsible dialogue.

Both sides should listen to the context and constraints and agree to continue to work together till either a solution is found or an acceptable conclusion is reached.

If readers are happy with this way forward, websites like TOC and others can act as honest brokers to moderate the conversations both ways in a balanced manner.

Both government and people are not monoliths, so it is OK that some will accept this conversation and some will be cautious or skeptical on both sides. But this effort should be a good start to make things better.

I think if we all engage each other this way, the Singapore Conversation can achieve its real meaning and we can all build our country together with conversations that are mutually respectful and constructive. Our people and government will then be able to converge and deliver the through meaning of One People, One Nation, One Singapore.

I hope to hear from TOC’s readers about what they think about the above.



Jack Sim

Latest posts

Election surprises and certainties: Dissecting Tharman’s presidential win

In the 2023 Presidential Election, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam secured a stunning 70.4% landslide victory, surprising many, including himself. Despite expectations that TKL would win the opposition votes, voters from both camps showed a preference for Tharman's charisma and perceived competency. As Singapore reflects on the outcome, questions arise about the election's fairness and the real implications of Tharman's dominant win.

Volunteer as a Polling and Counting Agent for Singapore’s 2023 Presidential Election

For the upcoming Singapore Presidential Election on 1st September, members of the civil society have spearheaded an initiative to strengthen our democratic fabric. We invite committed individuals to join us as Polling and Counting Agents, standing together for a transparent, fair, and just election. This vote counting exercise, organized by members of civil society, is not specifically in support of Mr Tan Kin Lian, a candidate in the upcoming Presidential Election. It's an exercise in active citizenry. Nonetheless, Mr Tan endorses this initiative, which hinges on his candidacy, championing transparency, and has given permission for the results to be shared publicly.

Reflections from the Centenary: The Legacy of LKY and Singapore’s Future

Gilbert Goh reflects on the LKY centenary event: an inspiring showcase of a leader's global legacy juxtaposed against current challenges, urging Singapore to continue its path of progress.

Lim Tean advocates for Tan Kin Lian: A visionary leader for Singapore’s Presidency

In his speech at Mr Tan Kin Lian's launch of his presidential bid, Mr Lim Tean passionately championed the need for a truly Independent President. Highlighting Mr Tan Kin Lian's unique credentials and genuine concern for the wellbeing of Singaporeans, the Peoples Voice leader emphasized the pressing challenges of rising living costs and job insecurities faced by the public. Mr Lim depicted Mr Tan Kin Lian as a beacon of hope for the nation, advocating for a leader who genuinely understands and represents the people’s aspirations.

Tan Jee Say endorses Tan Kin Lian for President: A courageous, genuine, and humble...

In advocating for a truly representative leader, Tan Jee Say underscored Tan Kin Lian's humility, courage, and genuine dedication. Highlighting the pressing need for restored public trust and effective independence, Tan Jee Say emphasized that Tan Kin Lian, as the 'People's President', would bring back hope to Singaporeans and champion true democracy

Tan Kin Lian’s pledge: Rekindling unity and charting a vigorous future for Singapore

In the press conference to announce his bid for the Singapore presidency, Tan Kin Lian emphasizes safeguarding Singapore's reserves and strengthening public service integrity. Drawing on his 30-year leadership at NTUC Income, he envisions a future with affordable living, accessible housing, and job stability, pledging collaboration with the government for a united nation.

Strengthening Singapore’s political foundations: A call to action by Leong Mun Wai on Singapore’s...

Leong Mun Wai urges Singaporeans to strengthen political checks and balances, emphasizing, 'The best is yet to be for Singapore if we dare to make the right decision in upcoming elections.

Trending posts