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Does Government listen to the people?

April 5, 2011 - 2:17pm

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TNP poll reveals about 1 in 4 young voters feels ‘politically alienated’. One such voter asks: Does Govt listen to the people?

ABOUT a quarter of the young voters surveyed by The New Paper feel that they want to, but have little say in government policies and decision-making.

The survey measured this using a concept devised by Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, who used it in an Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) joint study with Dr Gillian Koh last year.

In the survey, called “Citizens and the Nation: National Orientations of Singaporeans”, respondents were asked to rate two statements on a scale of one tofive.

The statements were: “It matters to me whether I have any influence on government policy or not” and “It is possible for citizens to influence government decision-making in Singapore”.

According to the study, if a person feels that it is important to be politically engaged but finds that there are not enough opportunities to do so, he or she would feel helpless and politically alienated.

The New Paper’s poll asked the same questions – and found that 23 per cent of respondents felt politically alienated.

One such young voter is Miss Bernice Guo, 23, a degree holder who is unemployed and whose parents earn less than $2,000 each.

Decision-making

She said: “It doesn’t make much difference what the people think. Most of the time when we say, like, we’re against the casino, they (the Government) will still build it anyway.

A Straits Times poll conducted in September 2004 showed that Singaporeans were split almost right down the middle on the casino issue, with 53 per cent in favour of having casinos here and 47 per cent against.

Miss Guo added: “The decision-making is made by a very niche group of people: Lawyers, doctors, the professionals, the ones who have higher social status. Do they really listen to the aunties and uncles out there?

“The voting is done by the people, but...they (the Government) have the final say.”

Associate Professor Tan noted that it is generally the more educated or higher-income earners who feel more politically alienated.

He said: “These folks are more aware of the issues, more supportive of democratic values, and more likely to hold the view that citizens ought to have an influence on the country’s future.

“But they also expect more and better opportunities for participation.”

Miss Guo reflected similar sentiments, saying: “Pretty much everyone has a degree these days. A degree is no longer a golden ticket. It’s just a ticket to get you to start at the same point as the rest.”

 

Related story: Would you vote if it weren't compulsory?

 

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