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Strong civic-mindedness key to achieving active citizenry

Promoting active citizenry is not only about giving citizens more space to participate in issues affecting them, or about getting as many people as possible to contribute (“Active citizenry can provide solutions for improving lives”; Oct 27).

Albert Ng Ya Ken

Promoting active citizenry is not only about giving citizens more space to participate in issues affecting them, or about getting as many people as possible to contribute (“Active citizenry can provide solutions for improving lives”; Oct 27).

An indispensable part of active citizenry is civic-mindedness, which can be defined as the voluntary sense of community or responsibility to the community. This has two components: Political and civic engagement.

Civic engagement, in particular, includes respecting the law and the rights of others. Our level of civic-mindedness falls behind many nations despite Singapore being a First World country by income.

Many of our good personal and social behaviours are achieved through the enforcement of laws — not voluntary as such.

Also, the fear of getting involved has, perhaps, hindered many of us from doing civic-minded acts spontaneously, such as preventing a quarrel or a brawl in public places. Perhaps we lack the confidence and skills to deal with strangers.

Civic-mindedness is a culture. In a society that has this, people feel empowered to do the right things — individually and collectively. We should work harder to develop this culture. A sense of direction and purpose must guide active citizenry.

There are many examples worldwide of misguided or misused citizenry, resulting in chaos and division among people.

Civic-mindedness aims to achieve more public good through good behaviour. Strong civic-mindedness would help achieve not only an active citizenry but also ensure it is a more constructive one, and is thus a more dependable driving force behind progression towards a better society and a more cultured people.

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