A need to keep reinforcing people's trust

A need to keep reinforcing people's trust

In the age of social globalisation, when governments, in their efforts to maintain relevancy and the mandate to rule, must cater for more diversity of opinions and a greater desire for the disgruntled to be heard across social media, expressions of dissatisfaction and mistrust of governance have increased exponentially ("Government has achieved much, but trust remains an issue" by Catherine Lim; Monday). Singapore is no exception.

Political commentators note: "Whom should I be wary of, if not the government, which wields the greatest of power in the land and with the greatest temptation to abuse it?"

Indeed, a healthy level of questioning and suspicion on the part of the citizenry is a prerequisite for a robust democracy.

In Parliament, the Workers' Party, as opposition, fulfils this role without redundant filibustering.

Yet, before we start complaining and foolishly join the e-crowd in lambasting the Government for all that it does, we need to assess the credibility of our own critique of policies as much as the policies themselves.

Even if policies do the greatest good for the largest numbers of people, sadly enough, they will still antagonise a fraction of the populace, leaving them with a feeling of bitter disenfranchisement.

Political trust goes hand in hand with increased wealth.

If Ms Lim is correct and mistrust of the Singapore Government is on the rise even as the nation gets wealthier, the equation does not balance and the Government needs to administer redress before more wealth gets concentrated among the elite while the majority struggle to live adequately.

Many trust our Government and our institutions because they are clean, functional and effective, as ranked by international agencies. Parliamentary proceedings are transparent, elections are regular and unrigged, corruption, though inevitable, is scant and protection from external threat is provisioned for.

It seems as if we should have great political trust in our Government, even as some cock an unwarranted jaundiced eye at the partiality of the judiciary.

Yet, social trust seems to be sadly lacking. The Government can leverage on the positive reception to policies that have had wide-ranging social impact by introducing more benefits specially for citizens who are struggling to keep up in our fast-paced society. It must never rest on its laurels.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)


This article was first published on June 18, 2014.
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