Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Multi-Lingual Government Services

If the majority of the schools and population can become multi-lingual, re the last post, then the challenge is for government services to also become multi-lingual. Why not?

After all, it is silly, for example, for a tax collecting agency to make itself obscure by restricting its communication in one mode when it has to try as much money as possible from all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons, whether they are citizens or not. The tax collector should produce their rules and instructions in languages that people can understand so that their awareness will make them pay more fully.

The world has changed. The people now do not need the government: Those who can't take it have left; those who are here do not care for it. Moreover, the government now needs the people. To pay their taxes. To vote for them.

With globalisation, it is not valid for the government to have a tight grip on the people by saying: "We are the government and you are the citizens. We tell you what to do and you obey, or else you quit." People have quit. But foreigners come into the country, ignorant of the rules and laws which are written only in BM. They go about their businesses oblivious of the government. They break rules and laws, and didn't know they did.

The government now has to struggle within itself to make itself relevant not only to the citizens but also foreigners and the rest of the world.

There are also real concerns such as over public health where there is an urgent need to communicate well. Communication can be improved through better images and better use of languages.

The country needs to mobilise its resources - all its potential resources and talents - in order to lift itself out of the quagmire. The government must speak not in one tongue but consistent messages in multiple languages and modes for its diverse culture and ethnicity.

It's time for government services to go multi-lingual!

1 comment:

walla said...

Government services should be more than multi-lingual. They should be efficient and effective:

That means continuous self-improvement. Not wait for complaints before taking action; nowadays it's more than being proactive. It has become PREactive.

That means seeing things from customer viewpoint first. Like government websites - are they up-to-date, useful, confusing or navigation-easy?

That means closing the loop on all services. If a request or comment is made, it must be answered in good time, not left hanging in the air and waiting for the customer to call again to enquire. The ball is always in the government's court. And if the answer is negative, the reasons must be given. No customer should be inconvenienced to file an application all over again or penalized for any government bottleneck that caused the customer to take short-cuts; the best way to avoid such problems is to be absolutely efficient from the start, regardless of which administration is running the service.

Being able to communicate to constituents in different languages is just one of many aspects for improvement.

After all, the government takes care of civil servants using its customers' money without asking whether customers are satisfied with the service provided. There is no satisfaction guaranteed or money back refund policy or even a court of arbitration.

Lastly, the civil service is the government's backup support for electoral vote swinging. If the service is bad, and the boss is bad, how can anything be good for the customer who pays both boss and service provider?

Especially if the customer is everybody.