Diverse views needed for engaged populace

In his letter, Dr Yik Keng Yeong mentioned an "engaged and participatory population" (What S'pore needs - an engaged population; Nov 21).

What is vital for an engaged population is for the people to have a say, to encourage debate and to let both complimentary and critical but constructive comments be heard.

I have heard of teachers who self-censor topics and institute certain out-of-bounds markers when they are teaching.

How can children learn to have differing opinions and perspectives if they hear only views from an "echo chamber", much like the news on one's Facebook feed?

And in this era of fake news, only when one has read from sources with differing views can one learn how to be discerning.

I am in the service industry and most of the time, I receive compliments from my guests but the critical comments are what I take note of because that is the only way I will know how to improve.

As Dr Yik said, "the 4G leaders do not have a monopoly of ideas", and given the complexities of the problems the world faces now, there is a need for multifaceted solutions.

The words of retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan, who talked about the "curse of the highly intelligent" - when clever people feel that only their opinions and ways are the right ones - are worth bearing in mind.

We need diverse opinions and critical thinking to navigate our way through today's world.

Charlotte Chu (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2018, with the headline 'Diverse views needed for engaged populace'. Print Edition | Subscribe