Issue 8: Should political leaders withhold information from the public?
I concede with the speaker that political leaders should withhold certain information from the public.
On the contrary, a person from a democratic country might contrast by saying that a political leader is
for the people and is elected by the people, therefore it would be unfair for a political leader to withhold
information from the public. However, I would therefore, suggest that a political leader should be allowed to withhold only that information which would be concerned with national security and welfare of the society while he should maintain his forthrightness in issues concerning the public rights to information. Moreover, in the world of politics, a political leader who fails to withhold information from public would reveal his naivete in the political warfare to obtain power. Thus, I strongly agree with the speaker that political leaders must be allowed to withhold information from the public.
One reason to support my agreement with the speaker is that a political leader is elected by the people for their welfare and safety. Political leaders are responsible for the decisions that they take on behalf of the people, keeping their welfare in mind. If a President was straightforward in discussing the strategies to thwart an international terrorist or druggist, with the public, then such strategies will surely fail and only lead to a compromise in the public health and safety. For example, a couple of years back, in India, the rescue operations of the hostages in The Taj and Oberoi Hotels was essential for the safety of the hijacked people. The President of India had to withhold the information for National security reasons. Sometimes, withholding the information can also prevent public panic. For instance, at the very beginning of the millennium, there was a spread of Y2K bug in the U.S. Pentagon's missile defense system. The fact that such information was withheld from the public, till it was solved, prevented a mass hysteria.
Secondly, the most essential characteristic that a person should posses in the world of politics, is to withhold certain information that would otherwise prove to be disadvantageous to maintain their power. Every political leader might have some personal foibles, character-flaws which might denigrate his or her reputation if revealed to the public. A political leader whose personal scandals have been revealed to the public, have proven the fact that such leaders sooner end their political career. Their families are neither spared from the enduring shame that they undergo in the eyes of the public.The well known Clinton's scandal is an example for this fact who ended his political career soon after his personal scandal went public.
I agree with the speaker that withholding information is essential, but misusing this right cannot be overlooked. Political leader should not withhold information from the public, in order to attain self motives. In such cases, in a democratic country, a political leader does not serve the people as he had swered to the public when he or she had got elected. Such political leaders would try to maintain their power through brutal force or by demogoguery, in short giving rise to dictators. Paragons such as Gengis Khan and Hitler are classic examples of such political leaders who withheld information from the public to attain their self interested motives. Excess withholding of information can also lead to corruption and manipulations in the political system. A political leader would misuse his power in sanctioning any illegal proceedings that might compromise public welfare. President Nixon's involvement in the Watergate scandal is a classic example of such misuse of power that occurred in the 1980s.
In conclusion, I would suggest that political leaders should withhold information from the public, for their welfare and safety chiefly and also to sustain their power. They should be straightforward and accountable to the demands of the public for their right to information. While, attaining self motives, and over using of their power in support of other illegal proceedings which would hinder public safety cannot be compromised.
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Thank you very much.