Ministers on Twitter

IT is not just good but excellent for our ministers to have accounts on Twitter. This platform addresses people directly without any intermediaries represented by the ministry’s thick walls and the minister’s close aides.

Ministers on Twitter

 


Muhammad Al-Osaimi

Okaz

 


 


IT is not just good but excellent for our ministers to have accounts on Twitter. This platform addresses people directly without any intermediaries represented by the ministry’s thick walls and the minister’s close aides.



The minister on Twitter will be able to talk to citizens without any barriers. He will not have to wave his hand from a distance or use the hands of his office staff to wave to the citizens who may come to see him in his office.



In theory, a minister on Twitter simply means that he will be able to interact with us directly and closely follow up all our issues to resolve them before they grow bigger or snowball.



All this is good and fine but it is simply not the case in reality. I have noticed that, and please correct me if I am wrong, the minister is present on the Twitter and other social media tools to tell us more about his daily activities.



He is mainly occupied by supplying us with summaries of his daily performance rather than carefully listening to us and replying to our queries.



One way or the other, the minister in this case will be copying to us the tedious written reports of his ministry’s information and public relations departments rather than interacting with us through his account on Twitter and other social media.



As you may all know, this is not the purpose of Twitter or social media. These new communication tools should have reduced the distance between the citizens and their ministers.



These days every citizen has become a journalist, conveying on social media all the events and problems right to the minister’s eyes or ears.



He or she will be anxiously waiting for the minister’s reply, which never comes. For instance, I have a personal experience in this regard with the former and the incumbent labor ministers.



I wrote to both of them about the condition of our recruitment market in which the citizen has become a victim with no one to come to his help.



I bluntly told the two of them that the citizen has become an innocent victim regarding the high cost of recruitment and the long time it takes to bring a house help from outside.



Through a number of tweets and articles, I also told them the rights of the employer or the kafeel (sponsor) that have been usurped in the protracting and fruitless negotiations with the labor exporting countries.



A large number of citizens must have also done the same, complaining to the two ministers about the failing recruitment policies.



None of the two ministers have taken the trouble to reply to me or to the other citizens. Our voices have, therefore, gone with the wind.



This means one of two things: either the presence of the ministers on social media is only to propagate their own daily activities or to dump on us the sickening press statements issued by their information and public relations departments.



The citizens, including myself, are therefore mistaken to believe that a single tweet or many tweets will mobilize the minister and entice him to reply or comment.



The ministries will not change and the ministers will not move by tweets no matter how much they may be. The tweets will not induce the minister, his deputies or undersecretaries to respond quickly to the complaints put to them on social media.



The ministers should promptly differentiate between the public relations work they copy on the accounts and the actual and quick interaction with the citizens.



They should do this before it is too late and before they may realize that the number of their followers on social media is fast dwindling.



The ministers should come in the open and respond to the citizens’ complaints. They should tell citizens when their problems would be solved.



After doing this, the ministers are free to tell us about their daily activities, where they visited today, with whom they talked or when their strategies will be implemented.