Public Opinion Governs…

In a democratic country, public opinion is of the highest importance. Democracy has been defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Hence the views of the people on various issues play a crucial role in determining the nature of government. The people express their views through the ballot box. They elect their representatives which form the government and they continue to be their leaders and rulers so long as they enjoy their confidence, and public opinion as expressed through the press, the radio, the television and now even more prominently the internet  favors and supports them.

The people get the kind of government they desire. If public opinion is enlightened and well-informed regarding the current issues and problems, the government would also be efficient and progressive. Public opinion plays a crucial role in a democracy. In a number of western countries, there are gallop polls from time to time to know the opinion of the people on important issues facing the nation. If the government loses the confidence of the people, it has to resign and fresh elections are held.

Thus public opinion plays a decisive role in determining the fate of the government. but public opinion is not always reliable. The people in general are fickle, ignorant and are usually moved by their feeling and not by their power of reasoning. They lack the power of logical thinking. Hence it was that Aristotle, the well-known Greek philosopher, referred to “democracy” as “monocracy”. Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar has clearly demonstrated that the people are fickle, inconstant and highly unreliable. They are generally with the last speaker, first, they are with Brutus and then with Antony who addresses them after Brutus. They fail to understand the principle for which Caesar was killed and so want to make Brutus another Caesar initially, but end up wanting to kill him after hearing Anthony’s speech. The opinion of such people cannot be relied upon. Therefore, for the success of democracy it is essential that people are enlightened and well-informed. They should have a correct understanding of the problems that face the country and cast their votes based on the basis of merit and be not swayed by considerations of race, religion and historical baggages. However, this is rarely the case.

The people can be easily misguided, emotionally excited and their views distorted, carried away by their passions, they often indulge in rumor mongering and destructive ideas. Clever politicians and orators can easily exploit them to gain their own ends. This is more so the case in a country where a new generation discovers the power of voting. They indulge in complaints on flimsy grounds. Usually, such complains are entirely uncalled for, and cause considerable harm to the nation. This ignorance and fickleness of the people is the greatest danger that faces a small nation like Singapore.

As a matter of fact, formation of correct and reliable public opinion is essential for the success of democracy. In this respect the press and other media of public communication can pay a significant role. Indeed, media is the most important means for the formation of public opinion. By reporting current events and interpreting them to the readers, it helps them to play an intelligent part in the affairs of the country. It teaches the public to make such demands upon the Government as are of common interest. It also tells them to press the Government to postpone some action which is likely to go against the public interest. So, really speaking, the media is a very vital agency of education in a democracy.

However, if the media functions in an irresponsible manner, it may do much harm also. If it presents distorted views, the public may be misled. It can inflame public opinion. It can degrade the tastes of the people. Sadly with the advent of the social internet media, it is difficult to control or regulate. Any irresponsible conduct can cause a setback on democracy itself, as democracy has been exploited as a means to an end. Indeed, it is now generally recognized that some curbs are necessary to prevent this misuse of the freedom of the media.

The media has unlimited power. It should not be misused or abused. It should work in very responsible manner. It should restrain public feelings on controversial issues and raise the standards. If the forces of disruption are not  regulated, we might have an era where an ignorant society might end choosing the wrong people as their leaders. The media can play a very effective and valuable role in his respect. Thus it can help us to develop the inner strength necessary for securing a just social order.

We are now facing with a paradox of propagating democratic rights but ending with democratic wrongs…Where press media is quite easily controlled, the internet poses a dark alley with unknown figures hiding within it. Will there a be a light at the end of the alley…? Why the need to question this when we can install those lights during the day to ensure there’s light during the night for that alley. So that we can see clearly what we are looking at.

To ensure responsibility is the democratic right.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] from Singaporeans Say ~~  Public Opinion Governs… Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   Leave a […]

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