They are not getting many hugs right now.
But are there things they CAN do ?
Actually, they have done a lot.
I hear that many government policies have been revisited to try to make things better.
Is that enough ?
Is that what the man on the street is looking for ?
Yes. And no.
The “No” bit is because they will not get things right until they change their posture.
It is not unlike talking to your rebellious teenage daughter. Every answer she gives will be the wrong answer, because the tone of her voice is wrong.
The citizenry has been liberated by the Internet. More people know that they are not the only ones unhappy with how the country is run. And they have valid requests for changes and improvements.
But they feel they are ignored by their leaders.
After having digested more facts, information and opinions,leaked or otherwise, they feel they too need to have a say.
They feel the leaders have not changed their stance, their posture.
Have you argued with a person who could do no wrong ? ( Your spouse, maybe ? ) What do you do in the end ? You give up.
The political leaders are in danger of suffering the same fate. Because they adopt the “We can do no wrong” posture.
The government’s posture looks like this:
1. We can do no wrong.
2. Yes, this happened but it was an error of a single individual.
3. Yes, it does not seem right but it is for the greater good.
4. Yes, you have a point but you are in the minority.
5. Yes, you have a good idea but we do not have the budget or manpower to do it.
6. Yes, someone did something wrong but let us not dwell on it and move on.
7. Yes, someone did something wrong but he is no longer doing that job (but given another comfortable position).
8. No policy is badly written because we have scholars with bright young minds working on them.
9. Yes, we hear you but we are going ahead as planned anyway.
10. Yes, we hear you but because you are not bright young scholars and experienced bureaucrats, you are just noise.
Mind you, this perception is not just in the minds of peope who have fallen through the many cracks of the Singapore Dream. Many people think this way. Engineers, the elderly, doctors, affluent families, and school teachers.
People can accept some give and take. But they will give up if the posture remains the same for a long time. The posture denies the government of the affection and the respect it should be trying to get. The posture says “I am not going to say that you are right and I am wrong”. This posture stems from institutional pride and no amount of facebooking or tweeting from ministers will be able to ease the growing frustration and anger.