Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Trinidad senators, Free Internet, and why it's a half-baked idea

A recent post on the TTCS mailing list made me aware that the members of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago's parliament were to be provided laptops and wireless Internet access, presumably with the use of Government funds. While two non-government senators praised the idea, the actual article did not give enough insight to prove to me that this was just another half-baked idea.

I would love to ask the proponents of this move if any mention was made anywhere in their discussions of training for senators in how to utilise the Internet effectively in order to better serve the people as members of the Senate?

Do any senators intend to start a blog to update the public on what good they are doing to justify the authority trusted to them by their appointments as Senators?

Do any senators plan to start receiving emails from the public and make a promise to respond in a timely manner to inquiries by the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago?

One of the independent senators who approved the move is also a practicing lawyer. The other mentioned in the report is an opposition senator who is a dentist by profession, although to be fair I am unsure of whether or not he is actively practicing his profession.
What is being put in place to ensure that these privileges given will not used as simply tools for Senators to carry about their private business or promote their professional careers outside of the Senate?

One colleague of mine, playing devil's advocate, argued that the laptops and Internet access would immediately increase the ability of senators to verify the truth of statistics and other claims made during debate and formulate more factually accurate responses. This in turn would build a healthier, more mature arena for discussion in the senate.
I agree with this, but I don't think this is sufficient value for money for the people. I want to see this facility justified by a demonstrable increase in the level of service FOR the people of Trinidad.
These are MY tax dollars (as well as YOURS) going to provide them with laptops and wireless Internet access.

I hope I am not the only one who wishes to see them benefit the people by bridging these apparent gaps between common (wo)men and the (wo)men in the Red House.

To whom much is given, much is expected
(Luke 12:48)