There’s so much to learn from Singapore. It is using social media to canvass public opinion. The government has launched a Facebook page (OurSGConversation) and a website (https://www.oursgconversation.sg/) encouraging Singapore to share their views on national issues. The Facebook page, for example, asks:
What kind of home do you want Singapore to be? How do we tie our hopes and our hearts to our home, no matter where we go in life? What are the things that make Singapore unique to you, or that make you proud of Singapore? How do we build the best possible future home for our children?
No longer can critics say Singapore has a paternalistic government with a “Father knows best” approach where the government decides what’s best for the nation. Even if it were true once, Singapore seems none the worse for it as one of the most prosperous, developed countries (all right, city-state) in Asia Pacific. Since the 2011 general election, however, the government has become more responsive to the people.
Maybe it has something to do with the election results: The ruling People’s Action Party won 81 of the 87 seats but saw its share of votes go down to 60.14 per cent, a record low. However, that does not detract from the government’s efforts to engage with the people.
The government was using social media even before the 2011 elections. There were ministers’ and MPs’ Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as Reach Singapore, both as a Facebook page and an independent website.
So what’s the USP for OurSgConversation and the allied Facebook page? We will wait and see – after all, it’s a new initiative.
Can government policies be shaped by social media? Why not? If the government wants to consult the people, Facebook is a good choice in a country like Singapore where most people use the social networking site. The data can be downloaded – and people by and large use their own names on Facebook. So they are likely to think before they post their comments. That should ensure quality feedback.
Facebook is also picture-friendly, and the pictures I have seen on the OurSgConversation Facebook page are lovely, making me feel even better about Singapore. And that, I guess, is what this conversation is all about – about your love and hopes for Singapore.
This may not work in a vast, populous country like India, but for a city-state like Singapore, this may be just the thing.