What is active citizenry?

We believe that “active citizenship” is the act of people going beyond their day-to-day lives, participating in various activities trying to make a difference in other people’s lives, eventually impacting society as a whole, be it at a local community level, a national level or even impacting certain democratic principles that matter.

Wikipedia informs us that active citizenship is a philosophy and is generally driven by organisations/institutions who expose or advocate the need for the state and businesses to remain responsible to the people and society as a whole, on a host of issues, whether it be environmental, social or economic related issues.

While these entities may not have specific governing roles, they hold sway and can enact change through the empowerment of society with knowledge, protest action and litigation.

Active citizenship generally brings the debate of “rights” versus “responsibilities” into play. Given the rights by our constitution, people have certain responsibilities to uphold. The implication is that an active citizen is one who fulfills both their rights and responsibilities in a balanced way.

The problem with this concept is that although rights are often written down as part of law, responsibilities are not well defined. There may be disagreements amongst the citizens and the state, or people in authority, as to what the responsibilities are.

In today’s hectic world where one’s time is short, becoming an active citizen is made easier by civil action organisations (such as OUTA), who survive on donations made by society to assist them in doing good work to challenge the Government in areas of wasteful tax expenditure and corruption. By simply donating on a monthly basis, citizens feel empowered, and they feel that their big or small donations make a difference to society.

They feel like an active citizen.