Singapore, 21 October 2013. A BBC feature on Singapore's search for its identity sought views from socio-environmental commentator Mallika Naguran who is also the founder of Gaia Discovery. Mallika, born in Singapore and a keen environmentalist, has written commentaries and articles for various publications and newspapers. In this article, Mallika commented on the need for greater involvement of civic groups in Singapore's nation building. "I see that the government is changing. They are becoming more transparent, more approachable, taking definite steps towards sustainability. Yet this could still improve. There could be more openness in policy-making, more access for civic groups to become stakeholders in nation-building".
Here's the extract of the BBC article concerned written by Jonathon Head.
"When I was living in Singapore 13 years ago, the government was debating a decision that in other countries might have seemed rather trivial: whether or not to permit a version of Speakers' Corner, the spot in London's Hyde Park where individuals vent their opinions on whatever topic they choose to whoever wants to listen.
The year before, the then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had worried that his country was not ready for such an innovation. But in September 2000 a location was finally approved, in Hong Lim Park, near the city centre.
Being Singapore, this "free speech forum" was a regulated one. Speakers needed police permission before they could use the space.
Like so many other aspects of Singapore's "disciplinarian" state, their Speakers' Corner provoked plenty of wry comment by foreign journalists. Few people turned out to hear the first anodyne speeches. The common assumption was that Singaporeans were not interested in risking trouble with their government by listening to speeches. They would rather go shopping.
But guess what? Speakers' Corner has become the venue for a number of quite lively demonstrations recently, over an issue which has provoked more debate than at any time since the country's tumultuous birth 48 years ago - immigration.
Those demonstrations, though, are still subject to regulations. They cannot say or do anything that might stir up racial tension or disturb public order.
Read the full article directly at the BBC Website, "Singapore's mid-life crisis as citizens find their voice".