Prof. Kishore Mahbubani – Let’s Balance It Out, Shall We?
I refer to Prof. Kishore Mahbubani’s claim about the lack of balanced criticism.
They are very quick to criticise but there is no attempt to balance this with recognition of our strengths.
That was said with regards to why he is concerned that online discourse might be eroding trust in public institutions.
The concern is valid. Lots of idi…people… out there posting comments that honestly, brings to question both their intellectual and emotional intelligence quotients.
However, I can’t help but have some problems with his concern.
Unbalanced Criticisms = Invalid Criticism?
My 1st problem is the assumption that just because the criticism is unbalanced, it’s untrue. That’s obviously not true.
So. If you’re lazy and I criticise your laziness but I didn’t point our your fantastic ability to cook, does that make my criticism about your laziness an unjustified one?
No. You may be a talented cook, but you’d still be lazy.
Assumption – Criticisms, Instead of Results/Actions, As Cause for the Erosion of Trust
The 2nd problem I have is that having that concern under the above context assumes that the act of criticising is the cause for the erosion of trust in public institutions.
How about the discourse that’s playing out online… being a symptom of the erosion of the lack of trust?
The 3rd problem I have, is that this concern may hide an underlying arrogance, or at best, over-confidence, in the public institutions’ ability to do no wrong.
Instead of looking at the results candidly and admitting to mistakes that have been made, it seems like a lot of effort has been to put to make it ‘look’ like nothing bad happened, or that, well, it couldn’t be helped.
Maybe one thing politicians need to learn from the customer service industry is (what’s wrong? politicians are put in power in the service of the country and its people yes?) that it’s not that one has made a mistake. It’s about admitting that the mistake has been made and then coming up with a solution to the problem without giving too many excuses.
Most people instinctively know when someone is trying to cover something up. Being in a position of power (or constantly suing, for that matter) does not make one immune to its effects. Putting up a spotless facade isn’t going to help much either. It’s like self-made emperor’s clothes.
So Then, Let Us Balance the Concern
It’s quite ironic that his concern is about balanced criticisms because the concern that our dear professor has is only 1 sided, in that it automatically assumes that it isn’t the public institutions themselves that might be causing the erosion of trust. Worst of all, in my humble opinion, is that it shallowly assumes that unbalanced criticisms is the cause, when it is most likely a symptom of the erosion of trust.
Seeing as to how the professor might have.. made a mistake and is possibly one sided in his views, I’d like to propose an alternative concern, which I believe to be in the spirit of what he’s asking for, to balance out the one that he already has. At the same time, I’d also like to propose that this is the very problem causing frustration among the Singaporean people, causing us to vent our frustrations online (part of which, admittedly comes in the form of unbalanced criticisms).
They (the current government) are quick to dismiss criticisms with no attempt to balance this with the recognition of the truths of the accusations.
Like how parents scold their kids out of love and concern when they misbehave, we criticise our country’s management when they screw up because we love our country. So, yes, we may be so passionate about the love of our country that sometimes, we become too emotional, stupid even, but that’s no excuse for not recognising the truths when it has been laid bare for everyone to see.
The government talks about taking the bitter pill. It’s time they practice what they preach. After all, it’s good for them as well, isn’t it?
So, they announced yesterday new and novel ways to start control of speech online. That’s when I realised I made a mistake when I proposed a the counter-concern. I forgot to recognise the government’s strength. So, I’d like to revise it to the following:
They (the current government) are very good at quickly dismissing criticisms with no attempt to balance this with the recognition of the truths of the accusations.
Update – 1/6/13
Let me propose another reason that’s causing an erosion of trust in public institutions.
Yeap. It’s because most of us are educated, are able to connect the dots and can therefore pick out inconsistencies. As with the picture above, whose suspicions wouldn’t be piqued when presented with such explanations?