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Thursday, Jun 19, 2014

Singapore, Mailbox

Don't take good govt for granted

The Straits Times | Thursday, Jun 19, 2014

I am not sure how Ms Catherine Lim would know how most Singaporeans feel about the Government ("Govt refutes author's claims over public trust"; June 14).

It was not too long ago that Ms Lim told the BBC that Singaporeans' lack of emotions was due to "authoritarian" government policies. The following year, Singapore appeared near the top of the list. There was no comment from Ms Lim.

It is critical that we do not extrapolate one's own opinion to encompass a wider population. There is the danger of a biased sample reinforced by a confirmation bias.

The classic case of such a faulty methodology is an opinion poll taken before the 1948 United States presidential election. It showed Mr Harry Truman's rival leading by an insurmountable margin. The survey was done via telephone, a luxury item at the time. Mr Truman won the election.

Ms Lim's claim that the Government does not care about regaining the trust of the people is astonishing as it clearly flies in the face of the many policies that have been and are being implemented since the 2011 election.

Indeed, over a few months, both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam have spoken about the importance of trust between the Government and the people. The Government cannot be led by opinion polls. Not doing what the people want is not the same as not wanting to gain the trust of the people. We need strong leadership, especially for a country as vulnerable as Singapore.

It may be fashionable to be seen as anti-government, but when it comes to the crunch, the present government is the one people trust. Take the election figures.

In the 1992 election, the People's Action Party secured 61 per cent of the votes cast, less than what it won in 2011 (62 per cent). In 1997, it won 65 per cent, less than two-thirds of the votes. In 1998, the Asian financial crisis took its toll.

In September 2001, the Twin Towers came down in the US. In November that year, the PAP returned to power with 75.3 per cent of the votes.

Singaporeans know who to trust in difficult times. The danger is we may take a good and trustworthy government for granted.

Eugene Tan


This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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