The special committee investigating the Jeddah flood has launched a web site to provide its latest news and, most importantly, to give the chance to public to report any information that might be related to the ongoing investigation.
I have to say that I find this move unprecedented in the Saudi government work. Simply, it is a public relation kind of moves. In such cases, the website will act as an official source of news and announcements coming out of the committee. Also, the move reassures the public and delivers the message that ‘we are working … and we are working fast.’ Because of the scale of the disaster, delivering such message is undoubtedly important in easing public stress and frustration. In addition to that, opening a communication channel to people to report investigation’s related testimonials is another message that ‘we are deadly serious finding the responsible people.’
However, there are some points that should be carefully weighted. After all, we have to realize that this is an investigation committee; they cannot make their own judgments of guilt or innocence. So we should not expect them to publish any details of their findings, and even if they decide to take some names to the court, those names should be looked at as innocents unless proven otherwise in a court of law.
For that, the idea of using the website as a PR channel seems to be fine with me although I am not sure what kind of news they may want to periodically release. Nonetheless, the idea of online reporting troubles me a bit. I can hardly imagine the work this committee is going through investigating years of names, projects’ papers, contracts, etc … I am afraid the website will be publically misused by reporting stories and allegations without providing any sharp evidences. The required efforts to scrutinize such stories will consume tremendous resources and will definitely add more burdens on the committee members’ shoulders.
Finally, the website is also giving the choice of ‘proving any suggestions to develop and improve services in order to avoid any similar incidents in the future.’ I am not totally getting the purpose of this particular option because it simply does not fall into place. The website is dedicated to the investigation committee and, as far as I understand, service improvements are not part of its duties.
What do you think?