In the effort to deliver a world class public service by engaging with the general public, social media has proven to be a game changer.
Compared to a decade ago, communication between the public and the government may not be as accessible and convenient as it is today.
Before, one of the ways for the public to stay updated on any latest news or information from the government was by reading the newspaper, tuning into the daily news on television or listening to the radio during the news segment.
In issuing their concerns, the public have to physically go the government offices or call them to lodge any complains or give feedbacks.
During those days, it would take days or perhaps weeks to process hundreds or thousands of lodged complaints received from the public.
Then, as the digital world continue to evolved and social media slowly became a norm, it was perceived as a tool to provide the public with e-services and information being shared through useful links was more upfront and formal.
Today however, the public can stay connected with the public service wherever and whenever needed due to the rise of social media.
And in enhancing the government’s public service delivery system, social media platform is an important tool for the public to be engaged in a direct dialogue with the government and its departments and agencies on issues that concerns them.
And these days, the updates on social media are often frequent, direct and accessible.
On the other hand, it also gives the government an opportunity to engage back with the public as they have the chance to directly deal with the people.
Over the past few years, Sarawak is not left behind in catching up in using the useful form of communication.
Government departments and agencies have created official social media accounts to have more direct engagement with the public.
For instance, during a RAKAN Sarawak interview with the Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB), its director, Chang Kuet Shian said that social media is one of the main forms of communication that the department used to stay engage with the public.
For JBALB, receiving complaints and feedbacks from the public is a priority as it has been their main objective to provide efficient water supply to every household in the State.
And one of the most frequently lodged complaints received by the department from members of the public is the disruption of water supply due to burst pipes incidents.
As water is one of the main basic necessities needed for daily task such as washing and cooking, it is therefore important for JBALB to ensure the flow of water supply stay uninterrupted at all times.
Thus, in doing so, JBALB has been actively engaged with the public through their social media platforms which is mainly for managing complaints, receiving feedbacks as well as informing updates to the public.
Due to their constant updates and active social media engagement on any current water issue throughout Sarawak, Assistant Director Corporate (Communication and Customer Service), Awang Fardillah bin Awang Hussin said that the number of complaints from the public has reduced.
He added that JBALB also engaged with local Facebook page with a huge number of followers such as Sarawak Edition to help them disseminate information and to the public.
By doing so, Awang noted that social media is helping JBALB to disseminate real and authentic information swiftly to the public.
The Ministry of Modernization of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) also shows another excellent example of utilizing social media to stay engage with the public.
“Among the types of reports that are frequently received from the public are complaints or inquiries on assistance or schemes regarding agriculture, fisheries and livestock,” said the permanent secretary of MANRED, Edwin Abit during a recent interview with RAKAN Sarawak.
“In this regard, the ministry through the relevant departments and agencies actively publicize the assistance or schemes provided through social media, print media and electronic media,” he added.
Receiving feedbacks from the local community is a priority for MANRED as the ministry and its relevant department and relevant agencies works closely with the local community in developing the State’s agriculture sector.
Edwin added that most inquiries would involve asking about assistance or schemes offered by the ministry and the Department of Agriculture (DOA) Sarawak.
And because of this, the general public from the farming community gets direct and frequent updates on the types of assistances available for them.
By keeping the public informed and engaged, the government will be able to keep them well informed about issues and matters most to them.
Social media has changed the way information is distributed in the public as the general public can reach to, whenever needed.
In addition to this, social media can also be used to raise awareness and get the public involved.
It has also greatly shaped the way public service engaged with the public as nearly everyone in the State can have access to the Internet through their smartphones.
Therefore, with the frequent engagement with the public, it provides the perfect avenue to build trust between the public sector and the public. By frequently staying engaged with the public as well as remaining authentic, honest and accessible in disseminating information, current updates and policy, it is a useful to build a good relationship with the people.