The following is an interview that was published in the 2010 issue of Social Space magazine by Lien Centre for Social Innovation: Catherine Lim’s Interview in Social Space 2010
Singapore is a society undergoing transitions. With a burgeoning migrant community, the advent of integrated resorts with casinos and an arguably increasingly effervescent non-profit, civil society sector, Singapore looks to be a society that is rapidly opening up. Yet, as writer and political commentator Catherine Lim controversially proposes, civil society and non-profit activists cannot create change without getting their voices heard and actively participating in the political process. She shares with Social Space, her thoughts on the indispensable ingredients for openness and political engagement in a society that wants to be truly global.
Has Singapore become a more open society?
I think it’s incipient. Things are changing and moving in a positive direction. This has nothing to do with any noble change of mindset on the part of the government. It is the inevitable effect of opening up, which is what the government knows people want. I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say in January (2010) that he would focus on economic restructuring, addressing demographic changes and “updating the political system.”1 The government is also changing its tack because it knows that the profile of voters has changed. There are many young netizens nowadays and the government knows it has to engage them and win them over. However, it seems to me they are good at giving a semblance of openness without relinquishing much real power. They are not even devious about it! I like them for their honesty and lack of pretense in this respect. Read more