Blogger Kwan Jin Yao, recently wrote to Today Online Voices addressing the Government’s shortcomings in the area of communication. In his piece, he noted how after the Population White Paper had generated concern and controversy over the projected population figure of 6.9 million by 2030, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong conceded that communication of the said road map could have been improved.
“We’ll be examining our experience with this White Paper very carefully to see how we can do better next time,” PM Lee said.
Four years later, a 30 percent water tariff increase is announced, and Mr Lee is again acknowledging the Government’s shortcomings in communication, Mr Kwan wrote.
Once again, PM Lee said that before announcing the tariff hike, the Government perhaps should have spent more time explaining the rationale and what it will be doing to help households cope.
“This echoes the frustration and confusion when the White Paper was rolled out and the 6.9 million figure dominated the discourse. Now, the 30 percent figure is doing the same,” said Mr Kwan.
The problems of policy design or implementation must be sussed, though there is ultimately little disagreement that communication was poor.
Communication is also not limited to public education. In this context, the content of the message and discursive elements are important, Mr Kwan said.
“First, to justify the hike quantitatively, the increased revenue could be matched to the expense in infrastructure, technology or other needs. Moreover, details of the aid rendered can be fleshed out to address concerns about socio-economic equity.”
“Second, communication should be a two-way process, embracing critical questions from a more informed public clamouring to be more involved,” Mr Kwan wrote.
Many netizens are unhappy with the Government’s ‘poor communication of policies’ or the lack of it as revealed by their comments on the Today Online Facebook post of the news. Some of them are quoted below:
- Royston Foo wrote: “The communications gap is getting wider and wider, due in part to the lost in social compact between the … and their people. It goes to show how easily the effort of one generation can be squandered by the next.”
- Jaxon Lee wrote: “’Poor communications’ is another way of saying the propaganda campaign put out is not effective enough…. Our leadership don’t seem to understand that a sudden 30% price increase will always look bad no matter how you sugar-coat it.”
- Ryan Keith Smith wrote: “Communication is not the problem here… The problem is the Government ease of bulldozing polices through like walking in a park.”
- Arnold Huang wrote: “If they cannot communicate then why are they in the cabinet? One of the prerequisites of leadership is the ability to communicate. Can’t even communicate, how to inspire?”
- Gabriel Khoo wrote: “What to improve? Government owns how many newspapers and TV stations? All these are inefficient to get the message across?”
- Danny Ng wrote: “The saying goes ‘foreseeing the expectation’ are the best. ‘Learning from the expectation’ are the norm. ‘Not learning from past expectation’ are the worst.”
- Simon Stenley Ho wrote: “When the policy is poor, no matter how u explain its still poor!”
- David Teo wrote: “Strong leadership has strong communication skills. Is PM Lee admitting that the leadership is poor or weak?”
- Stephen Ng wrote: “Hey, they can communicate for 1 year and people still won’t be happy. Just like the 6.9 mil white paper. Communicate till cows come home people still won’t accept.”
- Ken Sia wrote: “Does it make any difference whether u got explain or not?”
- Heimi Oo wrote: “Despite so much views, opinions & questions raised from the citizens, you are still not hearing us. Sadly.”
- Jason Bys wrote: “What ever means of communication, a single band of increment of 30% is hard to swallow, should have it gradually.”
- San Lee wrote: “Too sudden for acceptance…. govt got budget… we also got budget to plan…”