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Showing posts with label office. Show all posts
Showing posts with label office. Show all posts

May 6, 2011

Facebook, Social Networking ban in offices in Bhutan

The recent government decision to disallow the civil service from accessing the social networking site Facebook during office hours was regularly questioned by audience members at a ‘social media and democracy’ panel discussion held in Thimphu, yesterday.

Namgay Wangchuk, a royal institute of management trainee, asked panelists on what basis the government had passed the ban, and whether any kind of research had been conducted to validate the basis.

Panelist Tenzing Lamsang, who is also the news editor of the Business Bhutan weekly, explained that the intent of the ban is to increase productivity by civil servants. He pointed out that a consequence of the ban was a perception among civil servants that the government is trying to “clamp down on opposition.” He was referring to Facebook sites, such as the ‘amend the tobacco act’ and the ‘right to information’ pages. “I think it’s somewhere in between, not entirely on either side.”

An audience member asked how banning social sites would lead to productivity. Tenzing Lamsang pointed out that, as a journalist, he has encountered how Facebook can affect the civil service. “One flaw about the civil service, not all of them, when you go there they’ll be playing their video games, they’ll be on Facebook, and they wouldn’t have time for work,” he said. “I’ve faced that many times.”

He added, “You can’t use office resources, when the office is paying the internet bill, for your own personal purposes, but what do most civil servants do? Let’s be frank about it, guys looking for girls and the girls looking for guys.” But he also pointed out that, while the banning may curb such activities, the issue still remained a grey area, when it comes to freedom of expression.

A lecturer of the institute of language and cultural studies said that, by banning the social site, the government is “moral policing”. She pointed out that the government’s role is not to be a moral police. She said that instead offices should ensure that civil servants have “work to do”.

Another issue discussed at the event included why Bhutanese are so active on online forums that allow anonymity. The questioning audience member asked whether this could be because of a lack of laws offering protection on free speech.

Panelist Sangay Khandu, who is the parliament member for Gasa dzongkhag, pointed out that the constitution of the country guaranteed freedom of expression for all Bhutanese. “In no way is a Bhutanese at threat for speaking out his or her mind,” said the MP, “given that you can substantiate with reason and logic.” He added the tendency of Bhutanese to be active on online forums is not because “of an absence of a law that protects the rights of Bhutanese to speak or express.”

A Royal Thimphu college student said that social media is only available to a minority of Bhutanese. She asked what measures existed to get majority voices included in the media.

Panelist Kinley Tshering, who moderates the ‘amend the tobacco act’ Facebook page, pointed out that the government, as a first step, is looking to connect all dzongkhags with high speed broadband internet access by this year. He added that the next step would be to explore ways to get more people to engage in social media. He said that such internet literacy needed to be created by the media, civil society organisations, and the government.

The social media and democracy event was organised by the Bhutan centre for media and democracy and Royal Thimphu college. It was held to mark World Press Freedom day, which falls on May 3.

Source: Kuenselonline