PAP activists debate Singapore's future ahead of party conference

The People's Action Party (PAP) is holding a Party Seminar to discuss Singapore's future on Saturday, one week ahead of its biennial party conference. 

The seminar will present the findings from some two months of dialogue amongst party activists and -- for the first time -- non-members. 

PAP says up to a third of some 1,000 people involved in the dialogue were party outsiders. 

Mr Chan Chun Sing, a member of the party's Central Executive Committee, says it's the first time internal party debate involved non-members on this scale. 

"The substance of what we do has not changed, which is to constantly trawl and find better ideas. But the way we do it will evolve with the times. And times have changed. People don't just want to know there are debates, they want to see it, hear it and participate in it. So we adjust accordingly." 

"We talk about engagement, so everything has to start internally," Mr Chan adds. 

"Our own people must be energised, they have to believe in the process. So we must have that robust system within the party to do this. We should also allow Singaporeans to know that the party is not so monolithic. It's a broad church."

The dialogues were organised into five themes, and focussed on finding the balancing point for each. 

The themes were: moving fast - staying firm; fulfilling individual aspirations - achieving societal goals; giving our best - sharing our nest; globally competitive - locally connected; and inclusive politics - decisive government. 

The open-ended dialogue process was also a departure from previous, more functional party dialogues, says Mr Chan. 

For party member Eunice Chia's group, the discussion focused on how the party could re-position and re-energise itself to bring Singapore forward in the next 20 to 50 years. 

"We talked a lot about what we were previously, and how we need to anchor ourselves in our firm beliefs and core values in order to bring us forward. One core value we have is meritocracy. But can we update meritocracy, and not be so hard and fast about being meritocratic in achieving certain things?"