Don't be afraid to say it like it is

I refer to the commentary by editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang (Looking up to leaders to tell the hard truth, Feb 17).

Is this a case of a quick succession of unfortunate incidents that reinforced the notion, rightly or wrongly, that the Government has become lax?

Has the Government become so large that much gets lost in the system, where accountability has dissipated due to safety in numbers?

Or has communication not been done correctly or in a timely fashion, allowing the groundswell of opinions to fester, especially in the age of social media?

Perhaps public expectations have been markedly raised thanks to economic handouts and the gentler public consultations in recent years. Do we hear only what we want to hear?

But even if the truth is told on sensitive issues, can the public handle it, or will it divide an already stratified society?

We must be careful not to start a witch-hunt each time something bad happens, lest we discourage talented people from joining the public service and facing scrutiny.

Telling the hard truth can be hard but it must be done to gain trust from the ground.

But the ground cannot be impatient and rush the process in seeking the truth.

Whatever the cause, we must learn from it.

And no government should fear saying it like it is.

Lee Teck Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'Don't be afraid to say it like it is'. Print Edition | Subscribe