Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Singapore Politics: Forums for fun and laughter?

Does no political party pay attention to what people say on their forums? Or is it the perpetual problem of "face" or electability if one starts becoming candid?

What started this off was my early experiences with the SDP website which I felt was nice and imho, very forward looking. It reached out to readers by providing a format where a person may make comments (delayed and moderated before being published, which is an appropriate thing to do where I'm concerned.) And then I read an article presumably about how the SDP cares (SDP CARES '08). As it had an image of an elderly lady, it struck a chord with an earlier post of mine where I worried about the elderly homeless in Singapore. Hopefully, they will put up my comment soon and you can ready about my thoughts on the comments thread there. However, what caught me was how unresponsive the SDP itself was to a question posted by an earlier commenter asking if the SDP had any specific programs for helping the poor.

That led me to wonder ... do Singapore political parties actually care about what the people think?

So, I visited the WP site. It was a dissemination forum, nothing more. There was no convenient way for someone to interact with party members or post comments on their news articles, hoping to provoke thought on issues. This was true even of their youth website, which pretty much disappointed me.

What of the PAP? On the surface, it looked like their website was for dissemination-only, just news articles. But lo and behold, a forum was discovered (from a rather obscure link, unfortunately) on their Young PAP site! A good start. And then, to my amusement, I came across this thread:

Not only we need oppositions, but need overthrow papa party

My initial reaction? Impressed! I had not expected Young PAP to be so progressive as to allow such an overtly anti-PAP thread. Then, as I read on, it got funnier and funnier. Most of the posts were just random rambling gibberish. There were a few gems though and the last post I know was a rather balanced view. It then occurred to me that it was highly probable that neither the SDP nor PAP people managing the forums really cared to read the entries posted. I can see why the rambling nonsense could be ignored, but when people raise appropriate issues on your site, it is reasonable to expect some response from you to at least share your views on the matter. That is the purpose of a forum, so people can get together to discuss issues in a civil manner, isn't it?


Donaldson Tan said...

I attempted to register on the Young PAP Discussion Forum some time after the end of General Election 2006. My registration was rejected by the administrator.

Apparently, they don´t appreciate me quoting Benjamin Franklin - ¨Those who trade liberty for security deserve neither.¨

Chee Wai Lee said...

Hey Donaldson,

First, a warm welcome to my blog.

That was interesting. Well, registration "acceptances" tend to be pretty arbitrary, imho. In a whole host of other decisions I make each day, I often catch myself thinking "wait a minute! Didn't I find this thing acceptable just yesterday?".