Petir went behind-the-scenes to find out from the organisers the PPF Council on the preparations that made this year’s convention different.
As party conventions go, the 2015 convention was one with a difference. For a start, this was the first convention which had its very own logo and theme. The “Forward with Passion, Together in Action” theme was intended to engage and spur activists to continue the momentum of working hard for party and nation. The logo was to deepen impressions from the convention and inspire continued diligence by party activists.
Speaking to Petir before the convention, Mr Benjamin Tay, Chairman of the PPF Council, explained: “Through the convention, we hope to nurture a new pioneering spirit among activists who dream of a better future for Singapore, and turn problems and constraints into opportunities.”
Another difference in this year's convention was the engagement with participants well before it took place on December 6. The estimated 1,500 participants were asked to vote on polls generated by the districts a good three weeks before the convention.
This was possible through the novel harnessing of technology, the pigeonhole application. Participants whipped out their smartphones to vote on preferred solutions to challenges posed by panel discussions.
Using the same pigeonhole app, participants also submitted their questions electronically for the Q&A segment. These questions were voted on by the attendees (again using technology), with the most popular ones moving up democratically to the top of a chart to help the panels respond to them.
At breakfast and break time, attendees used the pigeonhole app to submit pledges on the type of action they would take to build a stronger party and nation.
And instead of the typical series of speeches from top party leaders, the programme featured panels from the districts which gave presentations and responded to the audience’s questions.
The presentations were also the subject of deeper and wider engagement as they were influenced by voting preferences from the poll results.
The PPF started work on bringing about a convention with a difference over a year ago. A core team focused on the nitty-gritty, with guidance on broad directions from the PPF Council Advisors.
Event organising co-chairs Edward See and Zizie Zuzantie said: “We wanted to create opportunities for our fellow activists to do more than just listen, to participate in something bigger than just an event.’’
In keeping with the theme "Forward with Passion, Together in Action" as well as Secretary General Lee Hsien Loong's call for Singaporeans to script our future together at his swearing-in speech in October, topics for the panel discussions telescoped into the future of Singapore. The three panel discussions, each led by a District Chair, covered the "Future of Caring", "Future of Lifelong Learning" and "Future of Sustainable Living".
By using the pigeonhole app, the PPF Council hoped to start activists thinking of those areas before they even stepped into the convention hall. It empowered and engaged the activists by allowing them to influence the presentations which were to be given at the convention.
Loke Choon Wai, a member of the organising team, pointed out: “Technology allows wider and deeper engagement with the ground to the point of even influencing the presentations made at the convention.”
For those who wanted a keepsake of the occasion, mementoes with the convention logo were given out. To deepen memories, pledge booths with inspirational photo walls, mock letter boxes and trees were also set up where participants could physically write and hang pledges and take photos.
This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of Petir Magazine.