A time and place to question Govt

Former head of the civil service Peter Ho was right in saying that trust today is no longer totally centred on the Government (Is balance of trust shifting from the political to social?; Feb 13).

Today, the populace has a louder voice than in the past, by virtue of social media.

Citizen participation in government has improved. This is good, as it keeps the authorities on their toes.

However, problems may arise if the people's trust in the authorities diminishes over time, or if the Government's voice carries less authority.

The litmus test is when a national crisis happens.

I agree that the Sars episode would have turned out differently, had social media existed back then.

Too many cooks would have spoilt the broth.

The sharing of all sorts of opinions - sound and unsound - about the disease would have resulted in total confusion. It would have been a disaster.

This is to say nothing of fake news from parties that do not wish us well.

I hope that when a crisis strikes us, we will trust the Government, as it may possess information which the public does not have.

We cannot behave normally in extraordinary times.

Discipline is needed when we conduct ourselves on social media.

Phillip Tan Fong Lip

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'A time and place to question Govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe