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Title: Effecting Policy Change in Singapore - A framework for Analysis
Keywords: Policy, Change, Singapore, Multiple stream framework, civil society
Issue Date: 13-Jan-2011
Citation: CHEAH YIK JIN, FARAH ADAM (2011-01-13). Effecting Policy Change in Singapore - A framework for Analysis. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This study compares four instances of civil societal pushes for policy change over the last two decades of Singapore¿s history using John Kingdon¿s Multiple Streams Framework (MSF), which accounts not just for multiple causal factors but the interactions between them. I place events leading up to policy outcomes for each case in three categories ¿ the problem, the policy and the political streams ¿ and show how and when these streams converged to provide an opportunity for policy revision. The MSF is then supplemented with an insight into agenda-setting in three areas ¿ the governmental, public and media agendas. The focus of this study is on how these civil societal pushes translated into policy outcomes, rather than on the outcomes per se. The case studies, which comprise three successful instances of policy change and one failed attempt, include the shelving of golf plans at Lower Pierce, the deferment of reclamation works in Chek Jawa, the demolition of the old National Library building and the delayed operation of the Buangkok train station. Though two of the cases on nature conservation resulted in policy change, they succeeded through very different causal mechanisms. In Lower Pierce, policy change was effected by a strong policy entrepreneur who was able to couple the problem and political streams effectively, despite the lack of civic activism and poor media coverage on the issue. Chek Jawa, however, showed no obvious signs of a prominent policy entrepreneur, yet achieved policy change to defer reclamation. The push to save the old national library, however, proved unsuccessful even though it received significant levels of civic activism and media coverage. It seemed that there was a lack of alternative proposals more than anything else. For some three years, the non-operation of Buangkok station in the fourth case study was left unaddressed, until a visual display of white elephant cut-outs and a police probe that followed drew both local and international attention to the issue. The station was then opened less than three months after. The findings from these cases suggest that the Singapore government has been receptive to civil societal pushes for policy change; but only when elements of each agenda show advantageous developments in the problem stream and in at least one of the other streams. Secondly, the study also highlights the importance of available alternatives and policy entrepreneurs in pushing for policy change from the grassroots. Thirdly, it shows how a seemingly vanished issue can resurface on the governmental, public and media agenda following a focusing event like the visual displays of dissent seen in the fourth case. Finally, this study provides a useful perspective for analyzing how policy change by civil society has been achieved in Singapore that may be relevant to future examples.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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