Tuesday, 1 January 2013
New Attitudes for Better Government - Citizens Engagement
1st January 2013
It is good that the government wants to engage with citizens. However, I think in order to truly engage, government institutions need to go beyond posting information on Facebook and Twitter. One can use these channels to disseminate information, but is that true engagement? How prepared are these institutions to be open with information and be responsive to alternative views? How will they deal with hard questions?
I believe for true engagement to take place, there has to be an attitude change in policymakers. Ground feedback should not be deemed as “noises” and social media viewed as being dominated by those on the “lunatic fringes”. If the government wishes to engage using new media, it must be prepared to deal with some messiness. It must come with an open mind to sieve out and seriously consider good alternative views. Suggestions can come from all mediums – through REACH, through online media, through the forum pages of mainstream media, through focus group discussions and even through other political parties. Amidst the many voices on social media, I have often found sensible opinion pieces.
Engaging is not about disseminating carefully crafted press releases to the public. It is being open with information, being open-minded enough to consider suggestions, and bold enough to push for difficult policy changes when it is necessary to do so.