The reason I participate in civil society and opposition politics is because I believe that no matter how good the Goverment is, it is in the interest of the country and its citizens to have checks and balances.

I am concerned because I feel that the results of the last general election have had a dampening effect on the critical voices and that is not good for our country.

I am not an elite – just an ordinary citizen who comment from what I observe and my experiences. But Singapore is at its crossroads, and it is important for public intellectuals to speak-up on matters like finance, health, public policies, etc, and show us the big picture of the flip side. If not, we will all be stuck with only one narrative and risk sinking lock, stock and barrel if the bearing of the narrative is not so accurate.

I do appreciate some public intellectuals like Cherian George and Nazry Bahrawi who do contribute to the discourse, but such individuals are too few and considering the huge information gaps we have and because a bigger pool of public intellectuals do not contribute to it, their comments can be quite limiting.

What’s more worrying is some public intellectuals who found their voices soon after the 2011 election now seem silent.

It could perhaps be because some of the issues have been better addressed by the Government. But from am aging population, to rapid urbanisation, to immigration, there are huge issues we would have to confront as a nation in the future which is not too far away.

I can understand if they have become more silent because of concerns about their livelihoods. The State afterall, controls much of the civil society, academia, arts groups and even private businesses through its various funding schemes and connections to high places. But such a silence is not good for society, for our children and theirs.

Nobody wants to stick their heads out only to get it chopped. (I understand! I thought twice, even thrice, about posting this note as I am still looking for a job.) But if you don’t, who will?

So this note is to our public intellectuals out there. And I ask with much humbleness – please ‪#‎FindYourVoice‬.

Ravi Philemon

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