STEPPING IT UP A NOTCH

Malaysia 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Y.B. Datuk Joseph Entulu Anak Belaun, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), on upgrades in the public services sector, overcoming challenges to modernization, and big data.

Y.B. Datuk Joseph Entulu Anak Belaun
BIOGRAPHY
Y.B. Datuk Joseph Entulu Anak Belaun was appointed as a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department after winning the 2013 general election. He is also the Deputy President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS). He oversees three sections: the Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning (MAMPU), the Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Education Service Commission (ESC). He was born in 1954 in Sarawak.

The modernization of public sector administration has been at the top of the government's priorities in recent years. How would you assess the progress made by MAMPU?

We have done a lot, but many ministries and agencies are not as up-to-date as we would like. However, most agencies and ministries have received our ideas smoothly. One important change that we have introduced is online exams. We used to have to organize different testing centers across the country to administer examinations for people applying to jobs in the public sector, even if there were just a few applicants. That was very taxing in terms of human resources, time, and money, but now we are going 100% online. Thanks to this modernization of human resources in the public sector, job seekers throughout Malaysia can take part as long as they have internet access. The questions are structured such that applicants will not be able to cheat, so we do not have to send supervisors, as we also know that there will be verification questions during follow-up face-to-face interviews. Another ASEAN country that wants to implement similar modernizations is Brunei. They are sending representatives here to learn from us and it has been a successful project. There are many new changes that we are introducing under the public service system transformation program.

What are some of the challenges that you expect to face in the coming years in terms of improving public sector delivery?

We currently have 70% of our services online. Due to financial constraints, some agencies could not participate in what we proposed because they have other priorities. In some cases, what they have now in terms of what they are doing cannot fit into our proposed system and they will have to make adjustments later on. We will give them one or two years to change their system before they can migrate to ours. Those are some of the not-so-major constraints, but it does delay the 100% target that we set. As a developing country that aspires to become a developed country in the next five to six years, we face a shortage of scientists in the field of ICT. We are still looking for scientists who really understand all of these areas and can take the lead. Another issue is that a large part of Malaysia is rural. Those who lag behind in terms of ICT knowledge pose a big challenge. We would like the rural demographic to benefit a lot from this modernization as well. We have tried our best to help in terms of providing free tablets and laptops; we spend hundreds of millions providing these resources under programs in place through the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission. The government also receives contributions from various ICT companies and then politicians suggest where the resources should be allocated.

MAMPU is working with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) on developing Malaysia's Big Data Framework. Could you elaborate on this?

Data is everywhere, but we need to aggregate it under one big synchronized framework. We need to identify the trends revealed by big data or else we will miss a lot of opportunities. MAMPU is actively involved with developing big data capabilities. There are two important initiatives in place: the One Malaysia One Call Centre (1MOCC), and also the One Malaysia Training Centre (1MTC). These have really enabled us to improve quality, reduce costs, and increase the efficiency of our public services. For example, with the 1MTC we consolidated all of the various public facilities available throughout the country into one website. We save a lot of money, but not only that—whatever facilities we have under-utilized in the past are now being fully utilized with the 1MTC System. 1MOCC is a system for aggregating queries from the public. Our trained receptionists will answer or direct call to the relevant agencies while all of the information is stored.