Knowing global affairs helps citizens make more informed decisions

I disagree with Mr Wong Boon Hong's view ("Positive sign Singaporeans are reading self-help books"; Jan 20).

Excessive consumption of self-help books tends to indicate an inward-looking society rather than one which is aware of the true nature of the world around it.

The point of Professor Kishore Mahbubani's article ("Can Singaporeans read?"; Jan 14) is that knowing more of the global political situation does, in fact, help ordinary citizens by leading them to make more informed decisions.

It is particularly important that Singaporeans are well informed of the global political situation because of Singapore's unique geopolitical position and particular susceptibility to changes in the international environment.

Individual Singaporeans need to exercise intelligent leadership in all aspects of society in order to strengthen the country's capacity to positively deal with these changes.

As observed by Mrs Marietta Koh ("Read political tomes? Newspapers good enough"; Jan 18), it is not practical, or even desirable, for everyone to read "political tomes".

But ordinary people can become more informed by reading more widely and intelligently, and acquiring the capacity to distinguish the false and excessively biased "news" sites in doing so.

Ordinary people can make a difference to the world. The challenge is to ensure that such a difference is positive.

Stephen J. Newton

Sydney, Australia