Straits Times: Call to go beyond just online views

THE Internet could hinder civil society activism if young people did not go beyond expressing themselves online to getting organised and taking action, said both an opposition politician and an activist on Saturday.

It was not enough to be “rambling in the distance”, said Workers’ Party deputy organising secretary Chia Ti Lik.

“Expression must be linked to action,” he said.

His view was echoed by activist group Think Centre vice-president Tan Kong Soon, who was concerned that youths may be content to just post their views on the Internet or sign an online petition, instead of attending a forum as well.

Both were speaking at a forum organised by Think Centre focusing on ways to engage youths, including using the Internet. About 30 people turned up.

The role of the Internet in reaching out to the public was also raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last Sunday when he said the Government intends to use new media like podcasts to convey its message to citizens.

The forum speakers did not refer to Mr Lee’s address, but Mr Chia said the Internet could result in people interested in politics just talking among themselves, rather than engaging others who are politically apathetic.

The 32-year-old lawyer also noted that political parties are creating youth wings to free them from having to take “more extreme views” that the youth wing can adopt.

The Workers’ Party set up its youth wing in June last year.

Youths should speak for themselves, with bold remarks, sharp arguments and, if the situation calls for it, sarcasm, he said.

Other speakers included Nanyang Technological University lecturer Ho Khai Leong, who proposed lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, as a way to include youths who might otherwise feel detached from politics.

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