Case for govt agencies to act for the common good

It is true that as old ideas preached by our Government are replaced by new ideas, what was orthodox yesterday could become heterodox tomorrow ("Which of today's orthodoxies will be tossed out tomorrow?"; June 7).

But this does not mean that the Government is wrong about its previous views. Instead, as society evolves, there is a constant need for the Government to correspond its views to the actual state of affairs.

One should be mindful that these changes of views have a driving factor, which is to promote the good of the public. There is also a series of debates before a clear judgment is made on issues.

With regard to the view that there is only one right version of Singapore history, what are the factors challenging this? This is a question that needs answering because one cannot change one's view on historical narratives without first being convinced that there needs to be a change.

In fact, if there is no new fact or historical document challenging the current interpretation of history, why should the Government not defend its view and use its resources to propagate it?

And if the Government has the mandate to achieve common good for the society, can less be said about the bodies under the state, such as the National Library Board, National Arts Council and Media Development Authority (MDA)?

In 2013, the MDA banned extramarital dating website Ashley Madison. Last year, it classified the film, To Singapore, With Love, as "not allowed for all ratings". This year, it did not allow the Jolin Tsai song, We're All Different, Yet The Same, to be aired as the lyrics support homosexuality.

What can we say about these acts? It shows that a government body is acting for the country's common good.

It is almost impossible for government agencies to be ideologically neutral because there are true and false ideas, and ideas have consequences.

Jervin Lim Teng Lai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 21, 2015, with the headline 'Case for govt agencies to act for the common good'. Subscribe