Transparency Saint Helena

Arguing for improved access to the way government takes decisions. In short, the creation of a Freedom of Information Ordinance for St. Helena.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Letter to The Editor in today's Independent

The following 'Letter to The Editor' will appear in today's Independent;

Esteemed Editor,

Various routine press releases were issued on Wednesday by SHG under the insulting title, "Open Government".  None of the content is about open government.  It's just called that, sort-of like calling my dog "King".

Is this SHG's idea of how to respond to the Freedom of Information campaign?

FOI isn't about what SHG feels like revealing to the people.  FOI creates a real system of open government based on everything being open to the public.  If SHG believes the public interest wouldn't be served by revealing the requested document, they must justify this using a set of agreed rules.  These are not the Middle Ages and we are not peasants or serfs to gratefully accept whatever bones of improvement are cast our way!

I wonder if, from now on, every time they reveal a minor road accident or that some dog barked three times, they will create a press release bragging about how open they are.  Then, if later some MP asks questions about open government in St. Helena, they'll be able to say they issued 73 such press releases in August, that Saints are impressed with this new openness ("See the happy natives!") and we of the FOI campaign are just a tiny fringe group of radical expats who are insensitive to the native culture and its fine tradition of arrogant and secret government.

It's like passing an ordinance that eliminates the Auditor General and Public Solicitor and calling it "An Ordinance to Eliminate Waste and Streamline the Budget".  They must think Saints are terribly stupid.

London Reader

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