Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The most prevalent and urgent cry from the public that we hear today as directed towards the government is for transparency in it actions and truth in its explanation of controversial issues. There are unpopular decisions made without much explanation as to why they were necessary, actions taken which look suspicious and unfair, investigations both by Royal Commissions, Cabinet Committees and Special Task Forces which took so much time, their reports not published and widely distributed. and their recommendations not immediately implemented or rejected with valid reasons. The public is not given a full opportunity to discuss the reports and question the authors or raise questions on issues not satisfactorily dealt with.

Delays in taking action and giving an explanation are always construed as an indication of something fishy going on or an attempt to hide something ( especially by the opposition). Unsatisfactory explanation generates more controversy than satisfies one's curiosity. A wrong decision made quickly is easier to correct than one not made at all or takes so long to make, hoping that a problem will solve itself.

These things being known by all, why don't the government address its effort at minimizing the delays and delivering what is expected and being demanded. Explain all actions and decisions that would certainly be unpopular before implementing them
making sure that effective dates are not mentioned if some people can take undue advantage of the disclosure. ( Even the best kept secret will still leak if there's money to be gained). When an emergency action is needed to protect the nation and people (not someone's interest), take action quickly by all means but explain it, for God's sake. And when the danger is over, withdraw the prohibition or offending regulation. Any bereft parties should be given a full opportunity to be heard by a special committee or 'justice of peace' ( I wonder what the JPs do in this country!) and their plight be brought to the attention of the government.

Most important of all, all reports of special investigations and inquiries should be made available to the public, maybe in two versions: one for the general public and another for those who had taken an oath of secrecy in the government. ( Again, the secrets won't remain secret for long!). There should be a public hearing of the reports where questions may be raised and arguments listened to and the recommendations discussed. Where the commendations received unanimous approval, they should be carried out without further delay. Where certain claims are dubious or debatable, further investigations should be carried out and discussed in public again.

The vital action which spells transparency and justice is that: those who are singled out by the reports as having a hand in the
'crime' or misdeed, must be taken to task while those who are innocent must be exculpated. The faster this is done the more faith and trust will be accorded to the government. The process of law takes time to ensure justice. When even this process is being questioned, there should be a supporting system to bring people to justice more expeditiously. Royal Commissions and
Special Parliamentary Committees ( with representatives from the government and the opposition) are the usual substitutes for
police investigations prior to legal proceedings. If the legal process is suspected of being influenced by the government in power, then the Royal Commissions and Parliamentary Committees should be given more power to hold public hearings where
representatives of the people and the voice of the public are given more weight.

This post is only presenting the obvious which some of the delays in government action today seem to ignore. Why delay the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate a volatile issue when the need is obvious since a government agency involved? Why hold back the report of commission of inquiry, or take no obvious actions on the recommendations made without any explanation for any rejection? Why let the police investigate issues involving itself and not an independent body
whose members include independent experts recognized by the public? Why investigate some people faster than others giving rise to 'selective prosecution'? Why be silent on certain things people are talking or complaining about? Give immediate answers, for heaven's sake, even if they are not final since an investigation is going on. Answer the questions that the public wants to know, not immediately start defending the bureaucracy.

That should be enough for a starter.

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