Important to be politically literate

As we stand on the cusp of another election, it is time for us to reflect on how politically literate we are.

The term "political literacy" broadly refers to an individual's understanding of how the Government works, and the activities the Government engages in to conduct the affairs of the country.

To be politically literate is to know, for example, how Parliament is formed, how elections are conducted, and how leaders create policies to address the nation's needs.

While it is certainly not reasonable to expect all Singaporeans to have an acute understanding of all areas pertaining to local politics, it is important to at least possess basic political literacy, because of the extent to which politics shape almost every aspect of our daily lives.

Can we distinguish between MPs, Non-Constituency MPs and Nominated MPs? Do we know who the incumbent Chief Justice is?

To be politically literate is to know, for example, how Parliament is formed, how elections are conducted, and how leaders create policies to address the nation's needs.

Such knowledge is important because these people represent us in government at the national and international levels, and shape strategies to address issues linked to health, education and defence, which matter greatly to every citizen.

Soon, Singaporeans will be heading to the polls.

I hope that before they do so, voters ask themselves if they have sufficiently educated themselves on local political matters, and if they are well equipped to influence the political future of the country with their vote.

Being politically literate is characteristic of an informed, caring and responsible citizen.

To be politically illiterate might indicate that we are not concerned with, or are complacent about, Singapore's future, an attitude that Singaporeans cannot afford to have.

Akaash Ganesh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2015, with the headline 'Important to be politically literate'. Print Edition | Subscribe