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Communication Minister on Facebook and Twitter: Adverse effect on young people
New Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed is concerned about the effect social-media networks like Facebook and Twitter are having on young people. “As a government we must be aware of what’s happening around the world concerning social networking sites and the influence it’s having on people and affecting our youths,” Mohammed said in an interview yesterday.
“We won’t control anyone, but we’re aware it is a problem,” he said. “I believe these sites are having an effect on our youths and we have to be very careful…Parents and teachers have to be aware of the situation and be involved.” Mohammed said the issue of social media networks was one of his three priorities. He began moving into his Nicholas Towers office on Tuesday and met with staff yesterday.
His ministry will be based on the sixth and seventh floor of the Nicholas Towers. Mohammed, a former teacher, has been in politics for more than 20 years. A member of the well known Mohammed clan and son of late UNC MP Sham Mohammed, he has also been a well known voice on Indian cultural programmes on radio and television alongside his father and siblings since 1981.
Mohammed’s political experience is also rooted in Hulsie Bhaggan’s now defunct MUP party in 1994, then with the UNC and currently with the COP. The new Communication Minister said he has three priorities. “The Government has had two budgets, totalling $100 billion since entering office and we have to account for it to the population, who have a right to know how their $100 billion was spent,” he said.
“One priority will be to ensure everybody involved in the state sector—whether minister or public servants—must all be on the same page in understanding the Government’s vision and working towards this, rather than contradicting each other.” Mohammed said his second priority will be to call in each ministry’s communication team to acquaint them with government’s policies, what they are expected to do to promote them and how they would treat with their respective minister.
“Government has done a lot of work in demanding circumstances, but the people haven’t been getting the essence of it, so we must improve communication,” he said. He also wants to give Opposition PNM MPs a chance to speak about their areas on government programmes, for which he is planning to seek Cabinet approval.
“People say governments try to control media and block out the Opposition, but I’m planning to open this up and give the Opposition a chance to talk about their areas on government programmes and debate issues with ministers on broadcasts,” he said.
Mohammed said he was inspired after he grew tired of hearing PNMites complain that little was taking place in their areas. His younger sister Nafeesa, a former PNM deputy leader, heads the PNM-controlled San Juan Regional Corporation. Mohammed, who is still putting together ministry staff, said he reports directly to the Prime Minister.
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