Heng Swee Keat on why the ‘National Conversation’ committee did not include opposition politicians: It is not a ‘partisan exercise’
Posted by temasektimes on September 11, 2012
The ‘National Conversation’ committee spear-headed by the government has come under fire for not including opposition politicians, civil activists and prominent bloggers which make a mockery of the feeble attempt by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to ‘engage’ Singaporeans.
There are seven People’s Action Party political officeholders in the 26-member committee – including Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, and Senior Minister of State Lawrence Wong.
Responding to queries from the state media on the glaring omission, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was asked by PM Lee to chair the committee said:
“This is not a partisan exercise….every Singaporean is welcome to provide their views, including members of the Opposition, and the committee will be happy to receive their feedback and ideas.”
Opposition leader Dr Chee Soon Juan who observed how a couple of ministers did not take up Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) offer to participate in its forums said:
“…the Government has never entered a conversation with us. Therefore, it cannot be for the SDP to state how it intends to participate (in the national conversation initiative).”
Even the tame and timid Workers Party’s MPs, who are widely viewed as belonging to the PAP’s ‘B’ team, were not invited to sit on the committee.
Repeated attempts by the media to reach WP Chief Low Thia Kiang has been unsuccessful. It is not known if he is in Singapore as he has been ‘missing in action’ for a long time.