How Then Should We Discuss About And Debate National Policies And Issues?

by Patrick Liew on August 16, 2019

How Then Should We Discuss About And Debate National Policies And Issues?

I trust that we will take an active interest and participate in the sociopolitical aspects of our beloved country.

It is an important part of deepening roots and improving Singapore.

As we discuss ideas and ideologies, and proposals and presuppositions, I hope that we’ll have a more constructive engagement and debate both on the Net and otherwise.

The following are some suggestions on how we can engage each other meaningfully and purposefully, and for the greater good of our beloved nation:

1. Adopt a mindset to value-add to Singapore and to Singaporeans.

Let’s seek to be wise, matured, objective, neutral, rational, balanced, and results-focused.

At the end of the day, we aim to fine tune ideas and ideologies for the better good of our nation and society.

2. Be purposeful, polite and professional.

Let’s focus on the message and not on the messenger, and the principle and not on the personality.

Debate on the subject matter and not subject each other to any abuse, harassment, and other forms of negativity.

As a member of the human race, we should not take things personally and call each other names.

Do not attack each other or seek all kinds of hurt or harm on each other.

Like they say, let’s attack the sin but not the sinner, after all nobody is perfect.

We don’t have to agree with one another but we can agree to disagree agreeably.

We have more commonalities than differences.

Why not open up more common spaces so that we can have more peace, harmony and progress together.

3. Be open-minded and magnanimous.

We should have an open mind and be willing to accept that we can be wrong.

In fact, the ability to admit that one could be wrong and that there is a better way forward makes for a better society.

Accept that your views are evolving and can be changed and improved over time.

In the same way, be gracious to allow others to improve their positions, presuppositions and proposals.

Together, we can achieve better outcomes for ourselves and for our families and communities.

4. Pursue wisdom and truth.

When a presupposition or a point of view is put forth, we should question its epistemological basis.

For example, “How do you know the view is true?”

Just as importantly, “How do you know that you know it is true?”

Ensure that your comments are based on evidence and not on assumptions, assertions, anecdotes or just narratives.

Do not rely on second-hand opinions, stories, hear-says, pop cultures, and make-beliefs.

Avoid hanging on to long-held views, dogmas and ideologies, and biases, prejudices and preferences.

Take the trouble to verify information and evidence, think critically, argue rationally, and support your points with facts and figures, and other evidence.

Be careful not to promote or partake in lies, half truths and misinformation to support beliefs and arguments.

Never start or perpetuate untruths, especially about people who are providing public services or who seek to provide public services.

Such a negativity may prevent good people from offering their talents and contributions to the country.

We will then be none the wiser or better off as a community and a country.

1.There is no perfect person or perfect policy.

Every policy has downsides, risks and liabilities.

There’ll be both intended consequences as well as unintended consequences.

In implementing a policy, there may be a need to implement the policy by stages rather than making major changes to avoid undue outcomes and impacts.

Unfortunately, in the process of implementing a policy, there’ll be winners and losers in many cases.

Learn how to choose the best option in the context of the targeted situation, and make the necessary changes in response to changing circumstances.

Calibrate and balance proposal to improve policy planning and implementation processes to achieve the best outcomes.

Propose all possible help within our limited resources to be given to make sure nobody is left behind and everybody is able to leverage the policy for the best possible returns.

Offer helping hand and not handouts to avoid eroding spirit of self-reliance, resilience, and pursuit of greater good.
1.Don’t KPKB.

Do not grumble, gripe, and grouse about anything and everything.

In the course of discussions and debates, avoid undue justifications, and giving of excuses and placing of blames on any person or party.

Instead, seek to offer recommendations and solutions.

What’s important is to debate the merits and for that matter, the demerits of every proposed solution.

Let the debate be a contestation of solutions rather than a competition of criticisms about downsides of every policy and solution.

Do not recommend unnecessary checks and balances for every proposal.

It may cause a gridlock or checkmate to growth of the country or a distorted decision, and we may suffer because of such recommendations.

In summary, let every discussion starts and continues on a positive path.

Put forth arguments that are positive, rational, and beneficial to our community and society.

In doing so, we can distill variety of ideas and improve on the results.

And derive significant, meaningful and fulfilling outcomes. Outcomes that will not only value-add to one another but also to the country.

Remember, our true enemies are not within us but out there.

These enemies may have planted moles and fifth columns to divide and polarize us, and weaken our country.

That’s why we need to stand together as “one united people regardless of race, language or religion”.

We should be pro-Singapore, pro-Singaporeans, and pro-progress.

Majulah Singapura!


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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