The Voices Editor
I refer to P N Balji’s commentary, “Why obsess about Govt response?” (TODAY, Jan 12).
Mr Balji suggested that I have a “fascination” and an “obsession” with government attention, when I argued that the Government should respond to online postings. He has misunderstood my comments.
This is what I wrote on The Online Citizen, where he had extracted my comments from:
The Government said that “it is not practical or feasible to respond to all blogs or forum postings”. No one is expecting the Government to respond to all blogs. But this should not prevent them from responding to some blogs, particularly those of serious socio-political bloggers who make cogent and rational suggestions in their posts.
It may be true that “not all bloggers welcomed the Government’s voice on their private blogs”, but there are some that do welcome a response.
I sense that the Government’s fear is that responding to a blog that is critical of the Government will lend the blog credibility, when it is more interested in discrediting opposing voices. Another fear is that a response will generate even more opposing views, which the Government may not have a response to. This may make the Government look bad.
My main point was that the Government should engage in debate about public policies not only on their own platforms, but also on other platforms where the discussion is ongoing. This was also the recommendation of the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS), which the Government rejected.
The Government should not only respond to views that it has control over, like those in the mainstream media and on their own feedback portal.
Furthermore, it makes sense to respond on the platform where the original comment was made in order to reach the right audience. Mr Balji’s article in TODAY about my online commentary is a case in point. He should have instead written his piece for The Online Citizen to put forward his views to bloggers, rather than to mainstream media readers.
I agree with Mr Balji that bloggers should not wait for the Government’s stamp of approval before making policy suggestions on their blogs. Most bloggers are already doing that. In fact some have taken it a step further. For example, The Online Citizen organised a talk at Speakers’ Corner last September to highlight our proposals to the Ministry of Transport for improving Singapore’s public transport system. (We have yet to receive the Ministry’s response.)