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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The downside of being in public

There is some negative publicity in the Singapore blogsphere right now about the programme that I am part of. I will not debate about the merits of the blog post that started it. Rather, I want to spend a moment to reflect on this incident.

Like it or not, government is a public figure. Like all public figures, your actions will be scrutinize. This is not a bad thing as we need transparency to make sure things are in order. Unfortunately, not all reporting are factually correct, especially in blog posts where it is easy to publish without the relevant fact checking.

The problem with inaccurate blog posts, especially when it is negative is its impact. Many senior folks in the government take things at the surface. A sensational title is all it takes to undo all the hard work the officers are making to help the community.

I also find it difficult to respond to these blog posts. On one hand, you can't be defensive because that will only worsen the perception that you are defensive. On the other hand, you can't just do nothing as your boss will demand some actions. What is a good response? For me, it is engagement. It is to communicate sincerely to see if there are some things that can be done to address any potential problems, issues, situations that spurred the negativity. It is the best solution I can think of.

Anyway, from this, I learn how the costs of being 'evil' will outweigh its benefits. However, what happens when the perception is not representative of the reality and the so call 'evilness' is an empty claim? What can we do?