Friday, April 11, 2014

Build trust by seeking widespread consultations for government policies

I agree with Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam that the public’s trust in a new and more challenging environment is going to get more complex with competing interests and rising expectations in the report, “Tharman: Three things that will retain public trust  (The New Paper, March 27).

DPM Tharman’s call for the civil service to make sure that polices take into account feedback on the ground for the people’s wellbeing, is encouraging.

In order for civil servants to fully understand the concerns of our citizens, it is vital to obtain feedback from all sectors of the population and not just a selected few. The long and short of it all is to have widespread consultations in crafting and refining government policies.  To this end, I suggest that civil servants and policy makers invite forum writers, caregivers, patients and social activists before such policies get implemented.  They should not shy away from seeking candid and frank views from this group.  

As far as healthcare is concerned, often the views of health care providers, social workers and voluntary welfare organisations are obtained during public forums.  However, as these workers are not living with those who are in dire need of support and care, they will not fully understand the suffering which this group faces and they may not present the full picture.  Patients and caregivers are the right people to obtain feedback from because they are walking the journey and the government needs to understand the difficulties caregivers face as they manage their care recipients 24/7.

Caregivers need to have an ongoing relationship with the government so that policies can be better formulated.  This is vital as the families' desire for emotionally sensitive care needs to be taken into consideration.

With more diversified views, the government will be in a far better position to craft and fine-tune its policies that will be beneficial to all Singaporeans.




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