When feedback led to Govt changing course

ST News
Mar 30, 2012

When feedback led to Govt changing course


The issue: The Government had planned to reclaim the 100ha wetland on Pulau Ubin for military use, with works slated to begin in January 2002. Its rich biodiversity had remained unknown to most until nature lovers raised that fact at a public forum on land use in May 2001.

The process: News soon spread of Chek Jawa's fate, and its unique ecology. Numerous experts, Ubin residents and ordinary citizens wrote to the press and petitioned the Government, urging them to preserve Chek Jawa. In response to the vocal campaign fronted by nature enthusiasts, the authorities consulted academic experts and took in citizen submissions. Then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan and officials visited Chek Jawa to assess the situation for themselves.

The outcome: A month before works were to begin, the authorities announced that plans to reclaim the wetland would be shelved for at least 10 years.


The issue: When certificates of entitlement (COEs) were first launched in May 1990, winning bidders could transfer their certificates to another party. Many blamed high COE prices on speculators seeking to make a quick buck by 'flipping' their COEs to genuine car buyers.

The process: In the months following the first COE auction, many, including the Automobile Association of Singapore, urged the authorities to make COEs non-transferable to eliminate speculation. The topic was also widely discussed at grassroots forums and in the press. The Government stuck to its guns initially, but the sustained chorus of opposition convinced it to reconsider. In June 1991, the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications, after consulting interested parties, recommended a trial on non-transferable COEs for most cars.

The outcome: In September 1991, the Government approved plans for a year-long trial. When the trial ended, the authorities decided to keep COEs for most cars non-transferable, as the public expressed a clear preference for it despite it having no direct impact on COE prices. This policy remains in place today.


The issue: Hoping to improve members' returns, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board unveiled proposals in January 2004 to give members the choice to divert their funds into privately managed pension plans (PPPs). It hoped to implement PPPs as early as 2005.

The process: The CPF Board published a consultation paper on its website and solicited feedback from financial industry players and the public. This online-based propose-consult-fine-tune model is used frequently by the Government for matters ranging from legislation to MRT station names. In this case, industry players expressed doubts about the PPPs' ability to attract a large enough pool of funds in order to keep fund management costs low. Many respondents also worried about the higher risks members had to bear.

The outcome: By November 2004, the CPF Board had put plans for PPPs on hold as it re-examined their viability. Plans were scrapped from March 2005.