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Forward SG omits government accountability and responsibility

Dr James Gomez critiques Forward SG for lacking government accountability and overlooking root causes of social issues, as PAP continues to dominate without genuine citizen engagement or political reforms.



by Dr James Gomez

With the general election looming by 2025, the People’s Action Party (PAP) government has published the Forward SG to articulate a national vision on socio-economic issues. Structured under eight chapters, the report sets out a roadmap for the next phase of nation-building, covering seven key areas of change, including education, career, family support, ageing, social mobility, resource management, and collective responsibility.

Forward SG claims that, over 16 months, more than 200,000 Singaporeans across all walks of life have participated in Forward SG engagements without providing a detailed breakdown of the participants according to work sector and age. Female participation in the process is also underrepresented in relation to the national average.

I ask, were you consulted, and do you feel any ownership over the process of shaping a future Singapore?

Even though the dark side of PAP’s economic growth model has exposed the vulnerability of Singaporeans who fall through the cracks, a close reading of the Forward SG reveals that its future plans for governance in the city-state is slated to continue without government accountability and responsibility.

Let me explain.

The PAP’s decades-long emphasis on individual responsibility, reiterating that individuals and families should do more to support themselves, will continue to guide its modus operandi. Government responsibility is omitted.

Forward SG lacks a clear road map to support its implementation. At best, the document is an abstract vision for Singapore. You will note that socio-economic challenges are presented devoid of the political contexts and technocratic solutions are offered for social issues. Such a vision for Singapore is dubious as it’s a plan without a set of political reforms and proposes solutions that don’t address the root cause of social issues in Singapore.

With a stark absence of bold shifts aiming to build a society that leaves no one behind, Forward SG offers no surprises as it attempts to respond to a growing number of foreseeable challenges, created by the very party that has been in absolute dominance for close to 70 years.

The Forward SG report is silent that PAP’s policies have been the main cause of the problems.

Providing no room to hold accountable the PAP government which has contributed to the societal problems, Forward SG abstains from implementing reforms to facilitate any transformation that can reinforce governance, wherein public accountability and transparency are central.

While everything else is vague, PAP’s position on citizen engagement is clear – there are no tangible actions to expand citizens’ political engagement to call out policies lapses and demand for public accountability.

For sure, Forward SG leaves little for imagination regarding the concept of “active citizenry”.

Citizen engagement will remain top-down and at the call of the PAP government, as in the “invited spaces of participation” created during the Forward SG consultation. If a PAP dominance continues, it will negate meaningful citizen participation and their ability to call out lapses in public policies and practices. Singapore under the PAP will remain paternalistic, elitist, and hierarchical.

In Singapore, garnering public opinion for a national, strategic vision in invited spaces of participation is nothing new. It is almost ritualistic that every new prime minister will initiate a task force to deliver such a policy document during their administration. These national conversations or surveys often corresponds with a leadership transition in Singapore. All these national vision documents that resulted from the “conversations” suffer from the fallacy of treating societal challenges as ‘apolitical’ and a lack of clarity over how problems can be overcome.

Like old wine placed in new bottles, concerns in Forward SG have repetitively appeared in previous iterations. With no clear means of verifying how policy implementation has transpired from them, public accountability remains a key piece of the puzzle in Singapore’s governance under continued PAP administration.

With value statements and fancy words—such as solidarity, resilience, and volunteerism—littered across the document, Forward SG, like its predecessors, functions more as a populist statement to calm and assure the public that the next generation of leaders have plans, rather than tackle real problems.

The political goal is simple: to solidify the PAP as a singular dominant political power during its next leadership renewal.

It is time Singapore voters deliver the message at the ballot box that economic development is more than simply achieving high GDP. In our pursuit of economic growth, the PAP’s singular control and interventionist policies have restricted individual freedom, and its prioritization of the economy over Singapore citizens.

In short, the PAP’s economic growth based on foreign workers is the creator of Singapore’s social problems.

Long-term planning is not a political game to be used by the PAP cement its political dominance.

Ultimately, to become truly “one united people,” we need bold shifts that demand government accountability and responsibility and genuine efforts to engage Singaporeans in co-governance to build a society that leaves no one behind.

Dr James Gomez is a political scientist and a member of the Singapore Democratic Party’s Central Executive Committee. He would like to hear from you at his email: [email protected]

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Sometimes I wonder are there really enough voters who feels the there are lack of accountabilities and attention to social problems due to lack of genuine citizen engagement.

The issues seem to be more noticable in the middle, middle upper class, those affected most by such policies.

Since when, … has this nearly seven decade regime ever practiced, truly and honourably practiced transparency and accountability, … despite swearing to and singing about it !!!

All these Fwd Sg and what not citizens’ consultation are just wayang every new PM or leader of the party have to engage in.
They have to pretend to care so that you think that there is true “social compact” between they and you!

But all they want is your slavish marching in step to their call!

Very very simple – Forward Singapore is a eFFg Plain Paper with PAP Prominent lightning Logo. Singaporeans ARE PUSHED by PAP to DRAW the Actual Road Map.

Then when the Road Map is drawn, events, milestones achieved, issues settled, esp ONLY GDP figures alone appears, THEN the PAP Administration’s Multi Millionaire’s Signature they Signed and Stamped below.