Trust gone: How to regain it?

opening-of-parliament_pm_lee

How can we regain the trust of the people?

I refer to the article “Has trust in the government been eroded? It’s time to talk frankly” (Straits Times, Feb 1).

It states that “For this group, maintaining trust in Government is not the issue, because it has already been eroded. They may be a minority, but they are vocal, and with social media and technology, their views spread quickly and are amplified.

As someone from the media with some access to the political elite, who remains friends and in touch with ordinary folk remote from the centres of political power, I sometimes feel like I live in two worlds.

I defend the Singapore system to those who have lost confidence in it. I am proud of my country. I am also a product of the same system that produced the political elite – some schoolmates are in the top rungs of the public and political service. I too believe in the importance of exceptional, competent, honest government. I give our leaders the benefit of the doubt; I believe most mean well and are doing their best.”

If we study history – there are ample examples of how trust is regained from the people.

When there is a change in leadership – the new leaders have an opportunity to be transparent and accountable for the past. After all, these were not during their watch.

So, Singaporeans may soon be able to look forward to the following:-

… to have “live telecast” of Parliamentary proceedings?

… to have the signing of a petition at public locations, for the live telecast of Parliamentary proceedings?

… to make public the CPF Life’s actuarial reports?

… to make public the MediShield Life’s actuarial reports?

… to make public the formula and the criteria, for calculating the financial assistance under Comcare?

… the employment change that went to Singaporeans, instead of locals (Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs))?

… the number of new PRs and new citizens (average of 30,000 new PRs and 20,000 new citizens granted per year) that are automatically reclassified as resident workers (jobs growth, unemployment rate)?

… the difference between the returns derived from our CPF funds and the interest rates credited to our CPF accounts?

… the additional revenue to the public transport operators by deferring -3.2 per cent of the -5.4 per cent fare reduction (computed from the fare adjustment formula) to next year’s Fare Review Exercise?

… how much the “real starting salaries” of polytechnic, university and ITE graduates have decreased in real terms in the last eight years or so?

… the actual proportion of true-blue Singaporeans in the population, after adjusting for new citizens?

… what is our social welfare expenditure as a percentage of GDP?

… what is the cumulative sum paid to new citizens over the years, under the HDB  Citizen Top-Up ($10,000 housing subsidy that is given to eligible Singapore Citizen/Singapore Permanent Resident (SC/SPR) households when a qualifying household member becomes a Singapore Citizen)?

… what is the proportion of the CPF housing grants given as a percentage of the total revenue from selling HDB flats?

… for the more than 1,100 PMETs helped under the career support programme – what is the percentage helped, out of the number of unemployed PMETs?

… how many civil servants have ever complained about their Minister to their permanent secretaries or the head of the civil service, in the history of Singapore?

… in the history of Singapore – how many companies have been “given a conditional warning in lieu of prosecution” for corruption?

… how much profits are made in total by Singapore Power, Singapore PowerAssets and the power generating companies?


Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.