This time, PM Lee displayed more PR savvy. At least he didn't ask the young Singaporeans whether they would support his "hip and happening" cheerleaders and balloon clappers.
ST Sep 24, 2006
PM to young: Help make S'pore better
By Peh Shing Huei
THEY told Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong they wanted to engage the Government, to contribute and be heard.
But the question that several young Singaporeans had at a dialogue with him yesterday was how. A youth parliament perhaps? Or internships with ministers, through blogs, or more such dialogues?
Mr Lee listened intently, interacting with the 220 in the audience at the Supreme Court auditorium, and gave this assurance: His Government recognises and encourages them to be a part of the process here.
What was important, he said, was not so much the medium used.
'What you really need is also not just the medium but to be on the same wavelength as the young people, to know what the young people are concerned about and to be able to talk to them so that they connect, their concerns, their issues,' he said.
He told the audience that included students, civil servants, representatives from the media, youth and voluntary organisations that their generation 'had been prepared to the best of our ability'.
Picking up a point from one participant who noted a recent survey which said youths wanted to migrate, he said they must ask themselves about their obligations to Singapore.
Reminding them of the seriousness of his pledge to engage them, he said: 'We're looking for a young generation to come along and take the team forward. And if you go to another country...will you be heard? What will be your impact on public life on the community in a country with a few hundred million people?'
They must, instead, stay and make a difference.
'If I say I don't like this, I'm fed up, let's go, I think that's a great pity. We would have lost somebody in whom we've put a lot of hope, and I think Singapore will be worse off.
'But if we say this is not good, I'm going to make a nuisance of myself until I fix it, that's different. Then I think there's hope for Singapore. You stand your ground and you make it better.
What is it you are unhappy with, let's get that changed...You must have the optimal degree of unhappiness - just right, and the conviction to make a change.'
But based on the forum that PM Lee's daddy had with young Singaporeans just a few months ago, I wouldn't bet two dollars that "the government recognises and encourages young people to be a part of the process here". Somehow, the term "radical English-educated young" does not sound encouraging.
On the positive side, I have to say that this particular group of young Singaporeans made an impressive attempt to become part of the process, and certainly displayed some serious conviction to make a change.