Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Constitution reform Wonderland

I am only in possession of common sense, which seems to be not too common these days.

The Prime Minister may need to send the minister responsible for National Consultation on Constitutional Reform on a course geared toward the acquisition of common sense—"The Principles and Foundations of Common Sense".

A flyer is printed for public consumption with the dates of the constitutional reform consultations, and states if you want to make comments in writing, you can do so, but it does not state the website or e-mail address to which one may send these submissions. Are they to be submitted by osmosis or telepathy?

Then when you call the Ministry of Legal Affairs and ask for a number where members of the public may call with a concern, or if they need clarification on the process for the consultations, they transfer you to the "alleged" repository of all this information—the minister's secretariat. On hearing their responses, I felt like I was at an oratory of Alice in Wonderland.

Then they realise they are all in the same position as I am—clueless about these consultations; then we begin the odyssey of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn—they transfer you to the communications unit, which asks you for your name and number, to get back to you.

I stupidly ask, "Will you have the time and manpower to call back every member of the public when all I want to know are the basics? Is there a hotline set up to answer questions like mine, or would all personnel know the website or the e-mail address where people like me who are unable to attend the sessions may register our views and ideas?"

Imagine: the most fundamental information the minister's secretariat and his communications unit do not know... no number for the public to call and, in real public-service style, they transfer you from place to place.

What is this? You would expect more efficiency and professionalism.

Many cannot attend because of the time, so the option of e-mail or website submission is integral, as many people use the technology. A Facebook page should have been set up and advertised as a modern communication tool to submit one's views.

What about all the social media channels to facilitate communication in the modern world, as geographical location is no longer an impediment for the flow of information?

Did Minister Prakash Ramadhar and his team really think this through? You do not need to be a legal genius to know that a flyer promoting something must have dates, times, venues, contact information for clarification and suggestions, as well as an e-mail address.

Heather Martin