Mailbox: Improve feedback channels

Mailbox: Improve feedback channels

Mr Daniel Koh Kah Soon made a well-reasoned exhortation for Singaporeans to take on "the responsibility to reflect, and then articulate our concerns calmly, using all the available channels to... garner support and hopefully win the argument for a better political agenda" ("The responsibility to reflect and speak up"; last Saturday).

His call is more applicable for the well-informed and articulate who can weigh all sides of an issue to arrive at a balanced conclusion and express it well.

In reality, many do not have this competence but still want their voices heard in the public sphere.

An example is the plea of retiree Irene Yap to withdraw her Central Provident Fund (CPF) money ("Questions and more questions on CPF"; June 15).

Going through the proper channels had left her frustrated, but she used the dialogue with her MP to get her story out till it reached the Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health ("Amy Khor clears air on retiree's CPF claim"; last Saturday).

My experience using legitimate channels to get my town council to better maintain cleanliness in my estate has been frustrating.

I have written often to the town council and my MP, and have tapped feedback channels.

The replies have been polite, acknowledging that my complaints are valid and promising to look into them.

But real systemic improvements have not taken place.

When legitimate channels are unhelpful, many resort to anti-establishment websites and forums.

There, they may find empathetic ears even for their half-incubated arguments based on warped logic.

Unless proper channels for articulating citizens' voices work effectively, less desirable channels will flourish.

Seto Hann Hoi (Dr)

This article was first published on June 26, 2014.
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