TURNING POINT: Immediately Visible Good Governance

MELBOURNE, Australia (MindaNews/ 6 Sept) – No political system and governance is perfect. As a traveller, I am always fascinated by governments that, regardless of their weaknesses and shortcomings and the criticisms against them, manage to deliver defining public services, such as the following:

An efficient public transport system. The system is integrated; bus, trains, trams and water transport, in some cases, are linked to airport terminals, ports and train hubs. Real cash is not even needed; an all-ride re-loadable tap card is all you need to move from one point to another. The train and the bus arrive at loading and unloading stops on time, to the exact minute, rain or shine, and the crew are courteous and the vehicles are friendly to the elderly and persons with movement disability or special requirements.

An efficient transport system is a great disincentive to car ownership within the metro and thus spare the commuters from insane traffic jams, air and noise pollution. Naturally, the people value these excellent services; thus, they honor the system, and respect and observe the rules even if nobody is watching. The system, which saves people and government a lot of resources in the maximum use of productive time, is properly maintained and regularly upgraded by the government and thus it works around the clock almost without flaws.

A reliable and predictable waste management system. How waste is collected, disposed and reused speaks volume on governance anent the health of people and environment. Domestic trash are regularly collected on schedule. Waste separation is practiced. And a mechanism is in place to reprocess solid wastes into usable products, say, as building construction materials, furniture and office and household items. And biodegradable wastes are processed into garden soil and are sold to gardening enthusiasts. And waste waters are treated before they are allowed to exit into natural water bodies.

Naturally, as in everything about social behavior, waste management demands a great deal of education and discipline from everyone, and discipline can only be attained by an effective punishment and reward system.

On education and incentive in waste management, nothing amazes me than the behavior of my nursery schooler 4-year-old Norwegian granddaughter, who helps segregate wastes in the family kitchen, collects all bottles, plastic or not, and deliver them to the grocery store every week to exchange for goodies or cash. For smart little Nana a plastic bottle is money, so if she notices one on the way to school or church, she will not miss picking and bringing it home. Certainly, the incentive system at the community grocery shop is supported by the local government and is no doubt inspired and funded by a national policy.

While heavy penalty, big fines and mandatory community services, may compel many to toe the line, internalizing the value of a clean and healthy environment through public education and practice is the ultimate solution to waste problem.

An effective and efficient waste management system spare the citizens from costly urban floods, flood-borne diseases and from a blighted, ugly environs.

More green space maintained in urban centers. Green spaces are very important to the physical and social health of citizens. The public deserves clean and green open spaces where families may socialize, rest and frolic. Health is wealth. At the end, the wealth of the nation is the health of the people.

Finally, a respectable and unobtrusive peace-keeping force. You would hardly see an armed police officer in public places of a well-governed and peacefully stable society; but everyone knows they are around to uphold the law and keep the peace. I think there is a strong relation between police visibility and the social discipline of a society. The more visible the law enforcers in public the more serious is the peace and order problem of that society. The less visible they are in public the less serious is the peace and order problem of that society. Thus, in traveling in foreign countries, one should be worried seeing heavily-armed law enforcers in the streets than seeing none.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.)