This year’s edition of Singapore Model Cabinet 2017 was organised in conjunction with the People’s Association, the Marine Parade Cluster, the South-East CDC and the Marine Parade Leadership Foundation.
SMC 2017 featured 6 cabinets, covering a good mix of social, economic, political and geostrategic issues. Moreover, this year, for the first time in SMC’s history, there was also a Multi-Cabinet Crisis (MCC) simulation, where delegates were able to explore ongoing developments in the South China Sea dispute, which has seen Singapore caught in-between the conflicting interests of major entities such as China, USA, and ASEAN.
The chairs and delegates were treated to invigorating debates, with a wide range of national topics discussed, ranging from the preservation of hawker centres to National Service to energy sustainability in Singapore. Furthermore, the crisis cabinets, in which the representatives simulated the 1974 Laju incident and a hypothetical South China Sea Crisis, provided delegates with the unique opportunity to make quick decisions to resolve them.
On the first day, delegates were ushered into LT5 for the opening ceremony and were treated to a performance by VJ’s String Ensemble to start the event. The delegates were then shown a short clip on the past edition of SMC 2016 so they got a glimpse of what can be expected for the next three days. Our Vice-Principal Mr Guru was invited to address the delegates, followed by Mr Darryl Lee, who is part of the communications group in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Mr Lee introduced the delegates to the world of Singaporean governance, which encompasses the realms of economy, society and geopolitics. He presented the main problems Singapore as a nation-state is facing, and is expected to face, in the future. Among the issues raised were the ageing demographics of Singapore, slowing economic growth and of course, conflicting interests in the South China Sea. After his speech, Mr Lee opened the floor to the delegates, giving insightful responses to delegates’ questions on the challenges Singapore faces from the perspective of the PMO.
The Secretary-General of SMC 2017, Lim Jia Rong (16A11) gave his opening address, expressing his hope for all delegates to have an enriching and fruitful experience from the discussions that are to come in their respective cabinets. The opening ceremony then came to and end with the screening of videos showcasing the Leadership Learning Academy and the New Opportunity Fund.
Debate with Minister Tan Chuan Jin
Cabinets C and D were honoured to have Minister Tan Chuan Jin, Minister of Social and Family Development join the Ministry of Social and Family Development of each cabinets in general debate. For cabinet C, Minister Tan opted not to speak in the general speakers’ list but instead requested the student representatives speak when it was the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s turn to speak.
After the general debate, it was time for dialogue with Minister Tan. During this, he emphasised the importance of considering trade offs in policy planning and encouraged participants in doing so when they wrote their draft cabinet memorandum. Cabinet C’s time for interaction with Minister Tan then concluded. On behalf of Singapore Model Cabinet’s Secretariat and participants, we would like to thank Minister Tan for taking valuable time from his busy schedule to come down and grace us with his presence!
Thoughts on SMC
While there was a mix of conference first-timers and veterans in each cabinet, the debates mostly flowed smoothly and the chairs encouraged all representatives to speak up and participate. A representative who declined to be named commented that although he had no prior experience, he managed to speak actively and help resolve the Multi-Cabinet Crisis. “I was intrigued by the nature of the debate and actually found the overall experience enjoyable.” When asked whether he would attend similar conferences in the future, he replied “Definitely!”
This conference was an improvement from last year’s edition, according to Jia Rong, the Secretary-General. “SMC 2017 had better standard of debate, in terms of delegate participation, intensity and intellectual rigour.” It was also noted that there were 300 participants this year as compared to 200 last year. Overall, the Secretariat was impressed by the progress shown in standard of discussion since the first installment of Singapore Model Cabinet.
After 3 days of gruelling debate on policies and trade-offs with their counterparts within their own Cabinets, delegates streamed in excitedly into VJ’s Performance Theatre, awaiting the results of their performance during the conference.
The programme began with a light-hearted video, prepared by the People’s Association — capturing the many eventful moments delegates had over the past few days. It encapsulated experiences of delegates and highlighted the bonds they forged over the course of the conference.
After it, delegates had the unique opportunity to engage in an inspiring and meaningful panel discussion with SMC’s Host Advisor, Dr Mohammad Maliki Bin Osman, the Mayor of South East District, and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence & Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Adviser to East Coast GRC Grassroots Organisations and is the Deputy President of SAFRA. (Quite interestingly, Dr Maliki is also an avid sports fan and a Chinese Guzheng Player). During this conversation, delegates brought out key concerns about Singapore’s political stance in the complex South China Sea crisis and heard about the Parliament’s policy — making ideologies. Indeed, the active participation and curiosity of delegates certainly did enhance the quality of discussion.
The end of the invigorating panel discussion also marked the start of the much-awaited Awards Ceremony, where Chairs of each Cabinet came up on stage to honour the best amongst the councils. They applauded their delegates’ attempts to substantiate their opinions and share their thoughts about the trade-offs each policy would entail. After facilitating 8 sessions of debate, each Chair guaranteed that the debate indeed surprised them and thus, each delegate received a round of applause for putting in their best to serve their councils. Although some left feeling elated, and others experiencing some dejection after hearing the results, there was resounding agreement and air of sportsmanship in the Performance Theatre after the Awards Ceremony.
The Closing Ceremony ended with an rousing address from the Secretary-General Jia Rong, that encouraged delegates and Chairs alike to take their achievements and learning points in this conference as a stepping stone to their future endeavours in the Model United Nations circuit.
With that, delegates and the Secretariat took their leave alike, as everyone approached to enjoy light tea and refreshments before ending their memorable journey in SMC 2017.
“It is hoped that the young minds of this generation would be able to come together and formulate solutions for the betterment of a society which they will be leading in thirty years’ time.” —Lim Jia Rong (16A11), Sec-Gen of SMC
Ng Jia Yeong, 17S64
Juhi Agrawal, 17S37
Tan Suan Kai, 17S49
To find out more about SMC, visit singaporemodelcabinet.com!