So called ‘public consultation’ a waste of time!

November 28, 2011

When I learnt about the public consultation being held in Kota Kinabalu for the Electoral Reform by the Parliamentary Select Committee, I was pleased to see that the Government was “walking it’s talk” and giving the public an opportunity to voice out their opinion on the matter.

So, off I went to Kompleks Pentadbiran Persekutuan’s Bilik Kedah for this public consultation. But guess what? There was nothing “public” about this consultation!

How can anyone with any common sense call it a public consultation when the people who are running the meeting and who are speaking are in a different room from the rest of the public!?

Members of the public who did not wish speak immediately were placed in Bilik Perlis. And those who had already decided to speak were placed in Bilik Kedah.

Imagine you would have to go into the “main room” by yourself (or with others who are speaking) and face a whole lot of people with suits. How comfortable would you feel?

To make matters worse, there were technical difficulties and the sound system was bad, video stream worse and at times totally gone.

How can you run public consultations and not put everyone in the same room I asked the organisers. The answers were as follows:

1 We are putting the people who have elected to speak up in the other room so that we can capture everything verbatim.

Are you telling me that if this was done in a public hall, your note takers will suddenly lose their skills at taking notes verbatim? What about audio recordings, they don’t work? Doesn’t make much sense….which brings us to his second answer.

2 We don’t have room big enough to put everyone in one place.

You mean in the whole of Kota Kinabalu, you could not find a venue that has a hall big enough to accommodate members of the public and those who want to speak to your committee? What about the Sigah Building, KK High School, Foo Chow Building, Magellan Ballroom, KK Community Hall, so on?

At the recent Roundtable for Sustainable Oil Palm in KK, the organisers handled 1,000 delegates with enough microphones to allow questions from any part of the hall. And they also recorded the whole event. And I’m sure if they had wished too, they would have full verbatim records! Perhaps you should get them to organise your public consultation as well.

They weren’t even a 100 of us there at one time. They are many ways to run a public consultation meeting and this was not even close to being one of them. If Maximus Ongkili wants’ to run public consultations like this, he might as well have stayed on in Antarctica and run it from there!

I end with a quote, verbatim from Maximus himself, “We want to give all Malaysians and organisations the opportunity to forward their views on improving the country’s electoral system,” he said.

No sir, you did not, by virtue of not putting everyone in one room/hall. An Epic failure!

Attached photos:

Public Consultation1 -The room for the public on the left and the guarded door for the “main room” on the right.

PublicConsultation2 -The view of the video stream form the “main room” which was still experiencing technical difficulties on Day 2!

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