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Engage critical voices before judging them: Maliki Osman

Policy-makers must be prepared to have their views scrutinised and challenged, said the Minister of State for National Development and Defence.

SINGAPORE: The Government must trust its people by giving citizens the benefit of the doubt, said Minister of State for National Development and Defence Mohamad, Dr Maliki Osman in Parliament on Friday (May 30).

Noting that mutual trust between the Government and the people is often talked about, Dr Maliki stressed that citizens should be engaged before they are judged.

He recounted how a student at a recent dialogue had raised concerns about the unhappiness and criticism seen on social media, and how this may be detrimental to society if unchecked. While he shared the concerns of the student, he said there is also more to learn about the online space, including how and why people use it to interact.

"I would like to believe that behind many of the grouses and criticisms lie concerned people. Many of them, and I would like to think the majority of them, are well-intentioned," he said. "Perhaps they want to do something, they want to advocate, but they don't know how best to do so." 

These "well-meaning voices" should be engaged with, he believed, sharing an example of one of his residents, who seemed to be a "huge critic", but is now an active volunteer after being engaged.

"In the course of engagement, even as we seek to explain and convince, we too must be prepared to have our own views scrutinised, challenged, and where appropriate we are prepared to change them," noted Dr Maliki, "This is the spirit of two-way engagement. It's how we close differences, rather than entrench them."

Dr Maliki also said more will continue to be done for vulnerable families. Home ownership is critical for building resilient families, and homes also become an asset that can provide for a better future for the next generation, he noted. 

"I believe that Singapore can continue to be the endearing home for all and a home for life with the right balance of Government policies and provision of infrastructure, strong families, community support and individual initiative."

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