Mobile cameras and govt officials



FOR the past several years we have been looking for a means to convince government officials on the need to respond quickly to issues of the street, but we could not find one until the arrival of cell phone cameras that taught officials how to start their talk without denial.

We now see government officials responding quickly to video clips circulated through social media websites and other media channels. As a result citizens consider it the best way to communicate with officials after many state agencies ignored official channels for communication.

Photos and video clips circulated by citizen journalists, depicting mistakes and negligence on the part of officials, have received strong response from government departments and this is a good development. But the problem is that people who want to make complaints against negligent officials and do not want to see mistakes in our streets and ministries or government departments or even in the private sector should depend on the mobile camera as an effective means to make change.

I am not against officials responding quickly to video clips and comments published by citizens through social media networks. On the other hand, I want the officials to give the same response to people who approach them through official communication channels.

Mobile cameras of citizens bring to the notice of officials not only complaints, grievances and mistakes but also beautiful and positive things. The situation has reached such an extent that you feel that the official does not live among us but live in the virtual world.

In 2010, a video clip was published about the massacre of gazelle in the Empty Quarter. The official responded quickly and brought the culprits to justice without realizing the fact that this was not the first time such a crime took place in the country and it would not be the last time. Unfortunately our officials react to only those incidents exposed by mobile phone cameras.

Since such interactions, the mobile camera has become a strong means of communication with officials, perhaps because of people's conviction that officials often live far from "reality" and they have to look for them in the "virtual" world.

Mobile cameras take the credit for highlighting many negative and positive incidents that have taken place across the country. It either helps to solve a social problem or honor a person who has done a commendable job for the betterment of society.

Many harassment cases have been exposed by mobile phone cameras, thus becoming the savior for many victims of violence. We have seen many video clips exposing negligent officials and employees who do not do their duties properly. They have also saved many patients from mistreatment.

The camera also saved the Kingdom’s academic curriculum after an army of officials at the Ministry of Education failed to find any mistakes in it. When the camera exposed the issue through social media, the minister of education expressed his regret and removed the deputy minister for curriculum affairs from his post. He assigned Tatwir Educational Service Company to develop the curriculum.

We also recall that the camera was the reason that encouraged an official to honor a school guard as he watched a video clip published by a citizen highlighting the guard’s dedicated and diligent work. Many positive and commendable activities take place in their departments but officials become aware of them and notice them only when they are circulated through social media.

Mobile camera plays a significant role in highlighting social issues as a result of people’s sense of civic responsibility. However, there are many things that are not captured by mobile cameras and I think the officials should make an effort to discover such matters and issues in order to perform their duties properly, make the salaries received by them legitimate and fulfill the trust bestowed on them by the authorities.