SG75: In pursuit of electoral reform and agile governance

My biggest takeaway from watching all the rallies and reading up about all the political parties… is that our representative democracy, as it currently stands, is incredibly outdated.

It simply doesn’t make sense that in 2015 you should have to depend on specific individuals (or worse, GROUPS of individuals) to represent you and ALL your wide-ranging concerns in a room of people who have to take turns to speak, within a limited timeframe.

What if you want CSJ’s compassion, Shanmugam’s foreign policy prowess, LTK’s contrarianism, Tharman’s financial knowledge, what if you want ALL of that to be represented in the conversation about your Nation’s governance, all the time? Why do you not have that option? Why is it that conversations between strangers on Reddit sometimes seem more intelligent and constructive than Parliamentarians talking past each other?

Because Parliament is outdated, that’s why.

When LKY was a young man studying in Cambridge, and he wanted communicate with his family back home, he would have had to make a really expensive international phone call. He would have had a few precious minutes at best. Today, his grandchildren probably have a Whatsapp group where they can send pictures and videos, even Skype with one another in real time from around the world. They get to share every detail of their lives with one another.

But strangely, Parliament still functions exactly the same way as it did then, and this doesn’t seem to trouble anybody.

With the status quo, inevitably, the small suffers. The fringe suffers. And even the big issues like security and housing and healthcare– they don’t really get the full nuanced attention they deserve, because Parliamentarians are always so pressed for time and research resources. (There’s only so much a few humans can do by themselves, however intelligent and efficient they might be.)

We should open it up. Every single issue can and should be debated INDEFINITELY. Every time we have new context, new information, it should be added to our living body of knowledge, and everybody should have simple and direct access to all the statistics, all the interpretations of all the statistics, all the projections, all the schools of thought, all the plausible outcomes.

Contrast Encyclopedia Britannica (a time-sensitive, fixed document written by a narrow team of experts) with Wikipedia (constantly in beta, everybody can contribute, but there are community guidelines, moderators, asynchronous debate).

Imagine an encyclopedia salesman knocking on your door today, convincing you that you should spend thousands of dollars on a cumbersome set of books that are already outdated as you speak. You’d probably laugh him off.

That’s how I feel about MPs (from ALL parties) going door-to-door, asking to be your representatives in Parliament. It’s outdated. We should have a conversation about the future, and we should be having it yesterday. #SmartNation #SG75