Friday, October 17, 2008

Personal observations on KRMF 2008

Okay, I have just gotten back from the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2008 (KRMF 2008). However, due to time constraint, I would not be providing a report on the event. Anyway, I suppose that, considering the nature of the event, there would most probably be many others, both in the mainstream media and the new media, who would be doing reports on the event and would most likely do a better job than me. (I mean, from where I was sitting, I could spot at least 4 members of The Online Citizen sitting a few rows in front of my row of seats and with one of them recording snippets of the event with a portable hand-held video camera)

Hence, I would instead just provide two minor and personal observations about the event.

Firstly, I must say that while it may be observed that Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan is a natural, articulate and perhaps even charismatic speaker, it is rather disappointing, though perhaps not unexpected, that he seems, to me at least, to not have make much departure from the usual script of long-standing government pronouncements and implicit self-promotion for the PAP government in his speech and answers during the Q&A session.

Thus, no offence to Dr. Balakrishnan, I find the whole event not particularly enlightening, in that nothing particularly new and/or insightful was mentioned (except perhaps his remark, in response to a question by Mr. Choo Zheng Xi of TOC, that his ministry may be, in view of the ongoing economic troubles, considering raising Public Assistance funds).

Moving on, I find it quite interesting that while many different questions were raised during the Q&A session, it seems that a recurring theme in a majority of the questions was about the influx of foreigners into Singapore & exodus of Singaporeans to other countries and what impact these two trends are having and/or may have on Singapore. Questioners also tended to ask about what strategies the Singapore government have to manage these two trends and their (potential) impact.

Although some of you all may dispute whether such questions from the audience are representative or not, it is my opinion that they nonetheless hint at something which Singaporeans are concerned about. Thus, I suppose that this warrants a further and careful study of the issues involved and a honest discussion, by Singaporeans and perhaps even newcomers to Singapore from different backgrounds, about such issues.

All in all, I suppose that while events such as KRMF 2008 may provide people with an opportunity to engage with government ministers, one should perhaps not go to these events expecting the invited ministers to say something ground-breaking in nature.

P.S. 18/10/2008

I find it somewhat interesting that, as of this moment in time (i.e. 1100h), there seems to be little news coverage about yesterday's KRMF2008. I mean, so far, I have only seen reports in today's Straits Times (page 6 of the Home section and with rather column space allocated to it), Weekend TODAY (page 8 and also with rather little column space) and The Enquirer (which have three articles about the forum). It seems that there was no coverage by Lianhe Zaobao or CNA. And interestingly enough, despite their evident presence at the event yesterday, it appears that The Online Citizen has yet to file a report about the event.

I suppose the local media (that is, the mainstream media) is more interested in covering PM Lee's opening of Fusionpolis and Khaw Boon Wan's remarks about the local healthcare system.

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