Friday, July 11, 2008


It seems that these days, any government policy or decision draws a barrage of criticism.

-- ERP gantries (and rates) go up. We have to pay more but it doesn’t solve the problem of congestion.

-- Laws against organ trading. If there is a willing buyer and a willing seller, so should we prohibit something that can save one person’s life and improve another’s.

-- Proscribing criticism against the government i.e. the Chees getting sued into (further) bankruptcy, and Gopalan Nair getting arrested (more than once). Why is the PAP government taking such a harsh approach towards its critics?

There are good reasons for criticizing each of the above issue, and over the blogosphere (and perhaps *because* of the blogosphere), we have heard many voices giving reasoned, compelling arguments why this and that government policy or decision should not have been implemented.

From anecdotal observations (with no statistical credence whatsoever to back this), it appears that the voices on the Net supporting government policies seem to be far fewer. Perhaps it seems that those who do voice support for government positions often get branded as “PAP lackeys”. (I too have been given the label on occasion even though I honesty try to be objective).

I am not defending or critiquing any of the above policies/decisions today. My point is simply that each policy has its beneficiaries, along with those who would suffer because of it. And that unpopular as they may seem, there could be a silent majority who actually support them.

Increased ERP rates benefit several groups of people e.g. those who cross few, if any, gantries (since they enjoy lower road taxes), those who have transport allowances provided by their employers and those too rich to give a damn (since some roads would be less congested for these lucky buggers, if only for awhile).

Organ trading laws give legal clout to a moral issue which is also high on the religious agenda – the sanctity of human life. There is probably a great majority who do not know anyone who requires an organ transplant, and would support such laws on moral/religious grounds. That does not necessarily make it right or good, but these views should also taken into account.

Criticism of the government is sensitive ground. I think that everyone should be allowed to criticize government policies. Even government leaders should and must be criticized where warranted. Like MP Wee Siew Kim who initially defended the remarks on his daughter’s blog as the “rantings of an 18-year-old amongst friends” and also saying that “her privacy has been violated”.

But slandering a government official a la Gopalan Nair’s blog about Belinda Ang is simply not the done thing in our local context. It may be “fair comment” in the US or other Western countries, but here in Singapore, it is rude … and stupid. If you show a printout of Gopalan’s blog to a group of heartlanders and ask what the chap should get, I believe many would suggest the rotan.

The views of the vocal few are important, but let’s not forget about those of the silent majority.

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