I was taken by surprise when I read in the Sunday Times (17 August) about ESM Goh Chok Tong warning about the loosening ties between people and the government. What prompted him to make this observation at the National Day Dinner of Marine Parade constituency? Is there a real concern with red flags that cannot be ignored now? Is there a ground shift towards opposing the government that has become a worry?
ESM Goh used family term to alert us of his concern. I continue with the same approach to comment on the Sunday Times’ report.
Even in a family, we do hear of a family member who cannot fit in and hence not pulling the family in the same direction. As parents, will they abandon him? Deep within us, we want our family members to be cohesive and to accommodate the so-called “the rebellious one”. We still want all to come together for a family re-union dinner every Chinese New Year Day. We want to set aside the differences among family members and to forgive and to build that bond again.
How can we build to reverse the loosening ties (if indeed this is the case)? Three points would be helpful.
- Communication and dialogue
Even the rebellious one has his reason for his behaviour and action. Keep communication channel open to hear his views. Engage those who have views that are different from you. I wonder whether it can be made easier to reach out to MP through various channels or for MP to reach out and hear the constituents. It would be terrible when we get to see our MPs only on election campaigns after 5 years in office. I must add that some MPs did a better job than others.
- Seek to understand and explain
There are policy decisions that impact the people differently. Some people are unhappy for various reasons and it is essential to understand this unhappiness and at the same time explain the intricacies of policy decisions to the constituents. The fact that an MP is willing to take time to have regular dialogue sessions with constituents would be good enough even when we may not fully support the policy.
- Fairness in treatment of individuals
In any decision, fairness in treatment of different individuals is important. If a policy favours more to one strata of the society, then the others would ask: “how about me?” As parents, we must be fair in our treatment of our children. Any perceived unfair treatment by parents would result in resentment by the children. This can be said of the government.