The recent Population White Paper generated massive online discussions and most tilted towards furor towards the speed of the Singapore Parliament accepting it within a week of debate.

Many Singaporeans who have added their comments on the Population White Paper, whether it was through the online medium or letters to the press, would have felt that their voices were not heard.

This has also shown that Singaporeans are ready to speak their mind and voice out their opinions to contribute to nation building, is it time for Singapore to look at ways to have the public's voice as part of the parliamentary process in accepting future White Papers?

Tan Kin Lian, one of the candidates in the last Presidential Elections, shared how Sweden engaged its citizen in the discussions of their White Papers.

Wrote Mr Tan on his Facebook Page,

"My Swedish friend told me that a white paper in Sweden is handled in the following way:

1. They government sets the terms of reference and get a committee of experts (technocrats) to carry out research and prepare a "yellow paper"
2. The yellow paper is released for public comments. Individuals, businesses and organizations can submit their views. it could attract 50 to 100 views.
3. The committee summarizes the views and present them to the government. 
4. The government decides on the law to be passed, after studying the comments, and submit them to Parliament to debate and pass approve the proposed laws. 
5. This process is well received, as the public has the chance to give their views, which are considered by the Government and Parliament." 

Although Singaporeans were recently introduced to the National Conversations, many Singaporeans still feel that the conversations are nothing but top down approach to amplify the Government's message to the ground level.

In the last Punggol East by-elections, "Government not listening" was a top 3 voting issue, would the Swedish approach provide the platform for Singaporeans to speak and to be heard?


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