All about getting people angry. Not about making things better.: Min Tan Chuan Jin

  Tan Chuan-Jin

Perhaps I’d put this out as a specific post. It’s not about not engaging or taking in different views. Taking in inputs is happening and I know that from the work in both Ministries I’ve been in. It’s about another side to this landscape that is evolving.

Although Janil was talking about healthcare, it applies to the politicization of many issues. We play up the one sob story (assuming it is even true?) and it becomes symptomatic of everything. Focus on headline grabbing angles and it stirs. Press the emo button, like the ridiculous story of the family depending on CDC’s $50, and use that to generalize. Often key details are omitted whether by the one telling the story or the one recounting it. It is done deliberately. And indeed, there are genuine lapses too. But it’s all about getting people angry. Not about making things better. Many others are helped consistently but that is conveniently neglected.

Unemployed stories are trotted out by some to illustrate how a system is broke. But we will never have zero unemployment…so there will always be those. 3% unemployed is about 50+ thousand. Does it mean everything is flawed? But we should help as much as we can…through practical measures like re-training, job placement, generating more jobs….

Remember the video of the old couple walking back from the Polyclinic? The old couple was exploited. It was not what was portrayed. We actually know the couple and when they realized they had been used, they were very shaken and have now become more withdrawn.

Those who work on the ground will know the variations and realities behind some of these type of stories. But there are genuine cases and when we do see them, we do what we can and many of us go that extra mile.

This is what is happening in many other places. People play to the gallery, there is a ready audience. We dramatize and we end up racing to the bottom. And we denigrate systems that actually work.

Is this what we as Singaporeans want? Actually first world politics is exactly this. You see it in most places. There are those who are bringing us down this path.

A lot of effort goes on every day by the many public servants and political leaders who are trying to do their best to make things better. They are not headline grabbing, dramatic or exciting. And certainly not perfect by far. But they keep things going.

Really easy to label others as compliant.

Dissing efforts like the OSC as not constructive politics is to disrespect the many who came forward to offer their views and ideas. Many of whom have shaped the policy changes that we see today. Policies that impact lives. I think it is much better that those who choose not to take positions (because it is politically expedient not to lose points) and flip flop depending on where public sentiment is bending.

This is what is happening today. Perhaps we do need to learn to play politics better and spend more time on this and spend less time on the substance? Produce better videos?! LOL. Do what is popular and trending because that’s what really matters?

But we won’t (but will produce better videos though!).

Our duty is to make sure that things are better for our people as individuals and as a society, for the present and also the future. Deal with the inevitable trade offs and confront the difficult choices. And do our best to improve our communications to explain and earn your trust and support.

I believe this is the right thing to do and we will continue to do so.

Comments :
>  Playing to the audience is exactly what politics is about. For far too long, we have had the fortune of having our politics functioning like technocratic policy-making. However, with the advent of media channels that cannot be as tightly regulated by the State, you see different narratives being spun, and they are not necessarily pro-State.

It is important to note that spinning a convincing narrative (i.e. “playing to the audience”) is not mutually-exclusive with good policy-making. Nothing stands in the way of good policy-making more than a political group being unable to convince people of its narrative, thus failing to carry the ground and possessing the legislative and executive power to implement the good policies.

In short, political groups in Singapore need to know how to juggle 2 things – making good policies AND creating convincing narratives. The former without the latter is powerless, the latter without the former is directionless.

  • Tan Chuan-Jin You are right. Both needs to be done today. But must make sure there is the substance and that isn’t lost.
 > If we aspire to build an inclusive society, different (and inevitable) contrasting views represent the various realities of the people. As much as you seek to define what should be “appropriate”, I dun think you are able to prevent plp (with different backgrounds and experiences) to voice their perspective. If inclusive society is what we seek to build, simply accept that this is part and parcel of the process; albeit how much u “detest” or “disagree”. Thru the opportunities of different exposure, the nation can learn to find its rightful balance amidst the “chaos”.
  • Tan Chuan-Jin I agree. And we do get many diverse views. We are getting them from our own MPS as well. If you actually look at what they have been surfacing all these years, there is a fair bit. But it may not grab the headlines because of the way they do it, but they have been surfacing options and ideas. Not just broad criticisms and general remarks. We certainly get a wide range of views from people who wrote in with fairly in depth suggestions and ideas.

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