Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has announced that he is launching a “bicentennial chat” to discover what people want Singapore to be in the future, the lessons from the past and the challenges of the present.
Revealing that he is “trying to emulate the old Greek style of open forum,” ESM Goh wrote on Facebook last Saturday that he is launching the forum in support of Singapore’s bicentennial celebrations.
Sharing pictures from the first in his series of forums, the former prime minister wrote that the purpose for such a forum is “for me and the participants to learn from one another.”
Revealing that he plans to extend such forums elsewhere in Singapore provided there is interest, he added: “Though participants have to pre-register to attend, others can register on the spot or simply stand at the sides and watch. I intend to have the Chat “roam” or travel to other parts of Marine Parade, and later our GRC. I will be happy to extend it elsewhere if there is interest.”
The “Bicentennial Chat” forums could turn out to be a more grassroots version of the “Our Singapore Conversation” initiative that was announced by current PM Lee Hsien Loong and spearheaded by presumptive 4G PM Heng Swee Keat in 2012.
Heng led a committee that held an estimated 30 dialogue sessions with Singaporeans around the nation, in an attempt to create “a home with hope and heart”.
Interestingly, the national conversation initiative was launched about a year after the watershed 2011 general election, when the incumbent party lost a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) for the first time since independence to the opposition and public support for the People’s Action Party (PAP) slipped.
Meanwhile, ESM Goh’s latest initiative comes as rumours echo on social media that he will be lifted out of the Marine Parade GRC team in the next election.
Interestingly, rumours that 77-year-old Goh will be phased out in the next election comes even in spite of the fact that Goh’s predecessor, Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, remained an MP until his death at the age of 91./TISG
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