National consciousness key to being a citizen

Aristotle described a citizen as "one who has a share in both the ruling and being ruled", suggesting that citizenship confers some form of status with rights and duties.

Arguably, it is the combination of economics, law and order, and material perks that has been instrumental in getting wandering economic migrants to unpack their bags and become citizens of Singapore.

The late deputy prime minister S. Rajaratnam associated citizenship with national consciousness.

To him, it is a matter of education, upbringing and mental conditioning that a child turns out to be a Malay, Chinese or Indian.

I agree with Mr Theophilus Kwek (Make citizenship count for more than the perks it gives; April 25) that "citizenship education should focus on cultivating values such as fairness, curiosity and scepticism that are essential to being informed, open-minded voters".

It is heartening that many Singaporeans recently made submissions to the Select Committee on deliberate online falsehoods.

This is evidence that citizenship empowers us all to participate in the decisions that influence our well-being.

The late deputy prime minister S. Rajaratnam associated citizenship with national consciousness. To him, it is a matter of education, upbringing and mental conditioning that a child turns out to be a Malay, Chinese or Indian.

While we may not agree with all the decisions made by the Government, the right to express our preference and question the basis of these decisions is fundamental to being a citizen.

S. Ratnakumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2018, with the headline 'National consciousness key to being a citizen'. Print Edition | Subscribe