Gov’t advised to enhance public consultation system

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issue 843, Page 2
Word count: 554
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Advisory Committee for Public Administration Reform has submitted to the government a proposal about how to improve the public consultation system, in an attempt to boost the governance standard and eliminate the perception of “fake consultations” in society.

The advisory committee met the media yesterday to introduce the past year’s work of its two special teams – the Panel for Policy Advise and Interaction and the Panel for Policy Research and Evaluation.

According to co-ordinator of the Panel for Policy Research and Evaluation, Dr. Sio Chi Wai, of the two 2009 research projects, the first one regarding the setting up of a system to collect and promote public opinions was already completed.

A proposal integrating the opinions from a Hong Kong consulting firm and the panel and listing six main suggestions has been handed in to the government, Dr. Sio said.

Meanwhile, another research project to review the entire policy making mechanism and process of Macau is going to be put in a tender amongst local research organisations or higher education institutes.

In regard to the proposal on the existing public consultation system, Dr. So said the suggestions were to reinforce the “power of research” in every bureau and public department; to introduce innovative approaches to do consultations; to pay attention to assessment on effectiveness and feedback; to introduce internal competition and incentives in bureaux; to obtain support from the secretaries and heads of bureaux; as well as to upgrade news releases and external propaganda approaches so as to stimulate communications between officials and civilians.

Dr. So said it is hoped that the entire consultation and legislative process of the Labour Law, which was passed late last year, can serve as a case study for the panel to compare the old consultation system with the proposal later on.

In addition, the panel co-ordinator said a classification system is being mentioned in the proposal, which will allow the government to find out which specific group of people will give the biggest advantage to a specific policy consultation and hence should be heard first.

He added that this classification system will help get rid of a general criticism in society that the government-launched public consultations are “superficial” and only hear opinions from a small group of pre-selected associations or individuals.

If the government is able to focus on the six suggestions and improve the future consultation process, Dr. So said the governance standard will be boosted and the risk of policy failure will be minimised.

Macau will also be able to train talent for governance and facilitate public participation in public affairs, he added.

On the other hand, co-ordinator of the Panel for Policy Advise and Interaction, Dr. Leong Heng Kao, said during the past year the panel focused on public security order and the relationship between police and civilians.

A seminar about streamlining case reporting procedures was held in July, which Dr. Leong said created an “intermediary platform” between police and residents and improved the relationship between the two parties to a certain extent.

In the future Dr. Leong said the panel will continue to work on the same topic.

He also said that it will suggest the police forces going “deep inside” the communities in order to establish a safe and harmonious living environment, and also improving their image by reinforcing publicity campaigns.

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