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4 lessons PAP can learn from the White Paper debacle

Posted on 11 February 2013

Hello? Anybody home? Hello PM Lee? Ding dong ding dong.

The Population White Paper was poorly written. How come civil servants still get paid so much?

The Population White Paper was poorly written. How come civil servants still get paid so much?

The PAP once again took a beating in the public sphere after they made a hash out of presenting the Population White Paper to Singaporeans, a document which many have ridiculed and flippantly dismissed.

Who can blame the naysayers? The presentation is pretty shitty — even the PAP admits to that — especially considering it is coming from a Government that has the mainstream media at its beck and call.

Now, the PAP and Lee Hsien Loong, in particular, is saying they are going to dwell on their missteps and think about how not to mess up again in the future if they ever had to present another document quite as important as this White Paper that involves screwing around with the total number of people on the island and messing some of our lives up.

Therefore, here are 4 ways the PAP can pull up its socks and not look stupid in the future:

1. Better ways to retrieve statistics, public information

Citizens need to stay engaged. They need to find their own answers online. Period.

This might sound straightforward and a no-brainer, but if you ever had to retrieve information pertaining to Singapore, its economy, population, GDP, this and that, you will vomit copious amounts of blood.

What the shit really?!

All the information is supposedly available on SingStat (ya right), but they are either consolidated poorly, haphazardly, or without any proper thought beforehand.

For example, figures are given for Citizens and Permanent Residents some times. Other times, they can broken down according to gender. Worse, at times it is not even clear if Singaporeans include PRs or not.

Dealing with statistics is already a pain the ass.

Presenting it in a half-assed, obscurantist manner will only make people vote against the PAP more.

You got it?

2. Make distinctions between native-born Singaporeans, naturalised Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

This point is a sub-point. But it is a very, very important point.

Every time you want to talk to Singaporeans about Singaporeans and foreigners, get to the point by breaking down the figures.

If you want to talk about the population or our economy, you’ve got to break it down.

Fudging native-born Singaporeans with naturalised Singaporeans feels like there is something to hide. And then you throw in PRs to smoke everyone.

All of us carry a freaking IC, right? You got all the records in the system, right? You got all the numbers but you wouldn’t want to share it?

Why? Scared?

3. Provide sufficient buffer time for White Paper to be digested

The PAP and the mainstream media are sleeping with each other. Have been for the longest time.

Will it kill the PAP to provide the mainstream media with the White Paper before hand, let them stew on it, and come up with better infographics and glossier presentations of the main ideas?

Look what happened.

Put something together haphazardly, let it float around haphazardly and now everyone is keen to vote against the PAP come GE2016.

How much of Singapore’s $250 billion annual economy is funneled back into the pockets of civil servants as wages and bonuses?

Someone out there must have thought about mooting for some buffer time. But is obviously too much of a bum to see it come to pass.

4. Use footnotes

I can bet my ass and my last dollar that everyone who worked on the White Paper must have gone to university.

In university, you have to use references. With references, you would need footnotes and a bibliography.

Just because you work for the PAP, doesn’t mean you are excluded from this practice.

Next time another White Paper comes out without the proper citations, someone needs to be identified for this misstep and publicly executed.

Without citations, how do I know you are not pulling this information out of your ass?

Lastly, you don’t need to thank New Nation for this timely piece. You just need to look to all Singaporeans and beg for forgiveness.

This post was written by:

- who has written 2685 posts on New Nation.

Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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  • Hamish Brown

    About as plain as one can make it…..

  • K

    Don’t publish a 17-year plan and vote over it in parliament just a few days later.

  • Sputzillion

    Why are you so concerned that, omigod, people want to vote the PAP out in 2016? What’s wrong with that? Has it really been doing so well in the last 20 years?

    Don’t you believe that Failure would be extremely good for the think-we-know-it-all, arrogant PAP? Make them try harder, think sharper, work smarter? They could get truly acquainted with Humility, who is most helpful when it comes learning about life!

    Don’t you feel that a truly Big Challenge such as running the govt would be good for the Opposition parties? Make them try harder, think sharper, work smarter? We could then have much more varied group of people with more running-a-country experience whose expertise we can call on!

    Don’t you think that having to Take Responsibility and to Really Think for Themselves would be good for citizens? Make them try harder, think sharper, work smarter – on their own? People would be forced to act like adults instead of being perpetually babied and simply following instructions!