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Learning first-hand how to write policy paper

21 Jan 2020 2 min read

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About 30 young activists from the Young PAP (YP) and Young NTUC were put through the paces of policy-making over one weekend in November 2019.

The participants in the two-day workshop during Nov 2 and 3, tackled change. They were tasked with putting together a mock White Paper on how plastic waste can be better managed in Singapore.

A White Paper is an authoritative report that discusses a complex issue in a concise manner, and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter.

Singapore has designated 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, with plastic waste highlighted as a key concern. Singapore uses about 1.76 billion plastic items a year, with less than 1 in 5 of these being recycled.

YP Chairman, Dr Janil Puthucheary, who is also Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Transport, kicked off the session, during which he laid out the broad principles of policy-making and the considerations that go into it.

MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Henry Kwek, also shared about the rigours of parliamentary procedures he has experienced as a first term MP and as a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry.

He urged the workshop participants to challenge the status quo on climate change and explained why plastic waste is a growing focus in the whole equation. He also suggested that the young should approach the issue of plastic waste in a way that their cause is understandable and relatable by all and not just among the young. They would need the buy-in of all age groups in society to make any policy on plastic waste effective.

Climate change has been identified by the United Nations as being one of the most pressing issues facing the world. Global emissions are reaching record levels and the last four years were the hottest on record since global temperature records began, with the impact felt all across the globe.

Nuts and bolts of a White Paper

During the workshop, the participants were divided into teams, each representing different interest groups in the climate change debate. They were guided by organising committee members who were last year’s workshop participants. They deliberated and went into the mock White Paper.

YP activist Ng Wee Hoe, 30, who attended the session, said it was an eye opener for him to learn about the complexities of policy-making.

“We had to listen to different groups’ concerns and viewpoints and see how everyone could compromise to reach an agreement in the end,” he said.

Mr Ng, who has been with YP for about five years, added:” Through the discussions, I realised that there were a lot of things that I didn’t see about the issue even though I thought that I had read up enough to get the whole picture.”

The mock paper will be reviewed by the YP and there are plans to submit it to the party leadership.

The YP also plans to organise a similar workshop in 2020 on climate change, with de-carbonisation as the focus.

This article was first published in the Dec 2019 issue of Petir Magazine.