Jan 22, 2007

On Eyes, Ears and Mouths

The following ST Forum letter writer thinks he is making constructive suggestions. And he is - he really is. He even has some very good criticisms.

But the problem with RCs is implicitly underlined in the very title of the following article:
    ST Jan 22, 2007
    RCs can be the eyes and ears of Govt

    PEOPLE'S Association corporate communications director Ooi Hui Mei says in her letter that it is a misperception that residents' committees (RCs) are party- political. ('RCs invite residents to join in building community ties'; ST, Jan 17).

    After having seen how RCs function for decades, could Singaporeans have come to a wrong conclusion?

    Some years back, I attended a number of RC meetings as an observer. I found that many of the issues raised were not the real concerns of residents. They had more to do with ongoing projects or events that offered photo opportunities with MPs or good press coverage


    RCs are a heaven-sent as they can be the eyes and ears of the Government - giving feedback on areas which need improvement, identifying problems of the elderly and the like.

    Despite having been around for almost three decades, the Government has yet to fully capitalise on RCs whose extensive reach into the heartland may just render the Feedback Unit redundant.

    Besides a few guidelines pertaining to racial harmony and grants from the Government to address concerns of those less well-off, RCs should be unshackled from politics.

    Phillip Ang Keng Hong
Philip Ang has high hopes for RCs, but he sees RCs, even in their ideal version, merely as effective "eyes and ears of the Government". In other words, RCs will still be tools of the Government.

It's pretty sad that no one even thinks that RCs could possibly be a "mouth for the people".

No wonder I have nothing to do with RCs.


Joseph Chiang said...

i remember my dad used to be an RC member when I was a small boy. i didn't understand what they were doing then. all i could recall was helping my dad to put flyers into letterbox every week.

Anonymous said...

After reading the excellent book "Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China" by Jung Chang, I realised that the "grassroots" organization had its origins in Mao's China, right down to the part where members were spying on fellow peasants for the Party. The revelation is quite frightening.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That guy must be feeling happy, now that he is able to impart this new knowledge of the roles of the RCs to most of our population.

Some of us already knew about it long time ago. Still, we would like to thank him for saying it out louder...

Anonymous said...

sigh, we have been run along the Leninist way of organizing a society. Is tis the best way forward?

To those who have the power to influence the society, they will say yes; to those who want to open up society they will say no. You can tink out of the box, but not out of the big box.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

With Singapore being riddled with so many problems, and with no sign that things will ever change for the better, why has Mr Wang not emigrated already? Or does he have plans for emigration in the future?

This is an important issue which I'm sure is on the minds of many Singaporeans. No doubt a rigorous cost-benefit analysis from the erudite Mr Wang would be of great help!

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Personally I don't plan to emigrate. Due to a variety of different factors, I've managed to build a life/lifestyle in S'pore which is quite satisfactory & pleasing to me. Those factors indeed are quite diverse, and include:

1. a medical problem that exempts me from further NS liability;

2. the fact that I work in one of those few industries which in Singapore ARE actually doing well;

3. my being able to compete successfully with foreign talents in my area.

(I also hate cold weather and wouldn't want to live in a non-tropical country. But that's another story. The other big reason is that my parents & kids have so much fun & happiness with each other that I wouldn't want to separate them by taking the kids to another country).

However, looking at the big picture, I think that an ever-increasing % of other Singaporeans are finding it less and less possible to have the kind of life/lifestyle in S'pore that they would like to have. So for them, emigration becomes an ever-more attractive option.

le radical galoisien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
le radical galoisien said...

Pffft, Jung Chang. I can concede a few things, but not her "revision" of the Battle of Luding Bridge.

I think RCs are underutilised. But the point is not for them to be the eyes and ears of the government, the point of them is to be strong local governments which provide a check (or a support, in a beneficial way to all) to the national government.

Being mere "eyes and ears" is pointless.