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Thursday, 4 October 2007

Bloggers day for Burma

INTERNATIONAL BLOGGERS' DAY FOR BURMA

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http://faithinsociety.blogspot.com/

Bloggers in the UK and globally push Free Burma message
By staff writers
4 Oct 2007

The internet, including social networking site Facebook, has played a major role in galvanising global solidarity and protest on behalf of the repressed democracy movement in Burma. Now bloggers in the UK and elsewhere are joining in on the action.

The "International Bloggers Day for Burma" began earlier today (4 October 2007) and has already drawn support from thousands of people across Britain, and many thousands worldwide.

The think-tank Ekklesia, which reports, researches and comments on religion in society, is joining the action to back peaceful change in Burma - where Buddhist monks and others recently took to the streets to challenge the brutal militart dictatorship which has been in power since the 1960s.

"We want to set a sign for freedom and show our sympathy for these people who are fighting their cruel regime without weapons", said an organiser of the bloggers' day.

"Bloggers are planning to refrain from posting to their blogs on 4 October 2007 and are just putting up one Banner then, underlined with the words 'Free Burma!'."

The Free Burma site also has a petition widget and links to other campaigning organisations. http://www2.free-burma.org/index.php

Saturday 6 October has been declared an international day of action in support of the Burmese people, with public demonstrations and boycotts planned the world over.

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow commented: "No-one should underestimate the scale of the task involved in challenging a heavily armed and ruthless dictatorship in Burma. But as the Burmese people show extraordinary courage, the scale of worldwide nonviolent political and economic action is also unprecedented. This international bloggers' day is a good way of mobilising opinion and support, as well as highlighting fresh approaches to social action for justice and peace."

Whistleblowing and accountability

RS Gilbert in his letter on "Whistleblowing" in the Canberra Times, October 3, 2007 missed a significant element of APS accountability, the accountability to Parliament. Perhaps he missed it because he framed the argument in terms of responsibility rather than accountability.

While APS accountability operates through the Minister, it cannot be reduced without remainder to serving the Minister and the Government of the day.
Parliamentary Committees for example, have asserted APS accountability to Parliament in terms of keeping Parliament informed and assisting parliamentary scrutiny of public administration and expenditure through a range of activities, not least of which are the "dreaded" Senate Estimates hearings. Accountability of the APS to Parliament also takes place through the reports of the Australian National Audit Office and the Ombudsman on the performance of the APS.

To attempt to reduce the role of the public servant to simply serving the Minister reflects the current emphasis on responsiveness to the Minister as the prime, indeed overriding account of how public servants are to understand their role. This is an emphasis that, it is now acknowledged, has lead to episodes that have brought the APS into disrepute, from the Children Overboard Affair onwards.

Given the more nuanced account of public service accountability that has developed in Australian practice, it is hard to see how "whistleblowing" could be subject to the blanket dismissal of R S Gilbert as "contrary to the principles of an apolitical public service and good public administration". It may be on the contrary that specific instances of "whistleblowing" are nothing more than an attempt to make accountability relationships work in situation where the formal mechanisms have broken down.