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Primary role of critics and sceptics not to find better programmes. – open letter to Teo Chee Hian

In an article in the Straits Times ("New Media 'noise' doesn't mean better programmes DPM Teo" ST 6 Nov 2010) , DPM Teo Chee Hian was quoted as saying, “The more noise you make on the Internet doesn’t mean that you have better programmes or better solution. Focus on the substance of what you can actually do for people." Below is Ravi Philemon's response to the Minister.

Mr Teo Chee Hean
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Defence
MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC
Deputy Prime Minister

AN OPEN LETTER WITH REFERENCE TO YOUR RECENT COMMENT ON THE LARGER ROLE THE NEW MEDIA IS EXPECTED TO PLAY IN THIS ELECTION

In a recent interview when asked about the larger role the new media is expected to play in the coming election, you said, "The more noise you make on the Internet doesn't mean that you have better programmes or better solution."

I write this note because I have heard this rhetoric being repeated so many times by so many people in the establishment over the years, that I think you have started to believe that which you are saying.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates taught his students that the pursuit of truth can begin only once they start to question and analyse every belief that they ever held dear. If it doesn't survive scrutiny, it must be ditched.

The modern day critics and sceptics, have used the new media as a tool and have identified themselves as 'bloggers' to play this very important role which society needs. Without the critics and sceptics in society, goals are left un-clarified, assumptions are left unexamined, hidden values are left un-discerned, actions are left unaccomplished and conclusions are left un-assessed.

Therefore it is paramount for the establishment to hear the critics and the sceptics and not dismiss it as mere noise.

The primary role of the critics and sceptics is not to find better programmes or solutions. We have the various ministries (headed by Ministers whose salaries are pegged against those of top professionals) and the very efficient civil service.

It is very important for the government and those that are in the establishment to respond to questions and discussions, without reacting. Ignorance comes at the cost of critics and sceptics losing all hope and turning into cynics due to frustration.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely
Ravi Philemon

The original letter is published here.