Searching for greater democracy | Inside Singapore Study Tour

Faculty of Arts students Rebecca Pearson and Helen McNeill give their insights into the Inside Singapore Study Tour:

When it is obvious that the goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius

It was our privilege and delight to have Workers’ Party MP, Ms Sylvia Lim and Chief Editor of The Online Citizen, Mr Terry Xu as guests at the Ngee Ann – Adelaide Education Centre to discuss their roles in Singapore’s parliament and media. Ms Lim provided us with a full history of the formation of the Workers’ Party and the motivation behind their policies. This gave us a better understanding of the way in which the opposition works in Singapore. Ms Lim showed a large amount of enthusiasm for helping her constituents with their concerns, whist at the same time, working on developing more effective policies in parliament.  It was of note to us that unlike Australia’s MPs, elected MPs in Singapore double as municipal administrators meaning they are also responsible for their local council area.

Most mainstream media outlets in Singapore are tied in some manner to the government ownership or funding. This has led to much debate over whether there is any influence on the editorial process from those in power. The Online Citizen is an online media publication founded in 2006 with the purpose of providing a platform for alternative voices in Singapore’s media sphere. Mr Xu has dedicated many hours to the position of editor at the organisation and described his daily life as a journalist and editor of an alternative news publication in Singapore.

In the evening our good friends Mr Mano Karan and his wife Mrs Bee Leng from the workshop invited us to join them at one of Mano’s favourite restaurants Kebabs n’ Curries, a fine restaurant located in Singapore’s Little India district. Here, Bee Leng presented each of the girls with a gift of her delicately hand-crafted rings and the boys with special pairs of chopsticks. We were taken aback with their kindness as we savoured our spicy Indian feast.


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