STREAM THAT LINE

Malaysia 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: E-GOVERNMENT

In a drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public sector delivery, which is one of the supporting policies under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), the government of Malaysia is increasing the number of services available to the public online.

Recognizing its importance not just for citizens but also for transparency and ease of doing business, Malaysia has been pushing forward the use of online portals to deliver information and services for a number of years. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad set up the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) initiative in 1996, under which the e-government flagship application was launched. This introduced basic services such registrations, licensing services, bill payments and information, with the objectives of not only improving government operations internally, but also increasing the quality of interaction between citizens, businesses, and government, while facilitating information flows and processes. Subsequent projects include the eKL project to deliver government services within Greater Kuala Lumpur and citizen-centered projects, such as myServices, myForms, myNews, MyBayar, and MySMS. The Public ICT Strategic Plan 2011-15 was later launched to further cement the strategic direction of ICT in the public sector, and is in line with the Whole-of-Government concept introduced in the 10th Malaysia Plan. The number of services available online today stands at 70%, up from 35% in 2011.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), headed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Y.B. Datuk Joseph Entulu Anak Belaun, is spearheading the transformation of public sector delivery through coordinating the implementation of ICT development. According to the Minister, some recent initiatives include the use of online exams for the recruitment of public service officials. This has allowed the government to save on costs, human resources and time, as it previously involved the setting up of physical centers, sometimes in rural locations, in which applicants could sit for examinations. A sophisticated verification processes is in place to avoid cheating.

Other key initiatives include the introduction of the MyGoverment Portal, a single gateway to public information and services that citizens can access twenty-four hours a day; the One Malaysia One Call Centre (1MOCC), a 24-hour call center that answers public inquiries and feedback; One Malaysia Training Centre (1MTC), an initiative under the Blue Ocean Strategy, and the Business Licenses Electronic Support System (BLESS), a scheme to automate the approval processes for business license applications. One interesting initiative unique to Malaysia is the e-Syariah portal, which aims to enhance the quality of services in the Malaysian Syariah Court and allows proceedings information to be accessed online.

Malaysia's success in introducing ICT in the public sector has drawn attention and a number of countries have sought to learn from its experience in implementing e-government services. “The UN has recommended that other countries that want to transform their government, their economic development, their physical development, and political system copy Malaysia as a model,” explains Minister Entulu. In 2013, the Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA), a government agency responsible for capacity building organized a course in partnership with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) on e-government initiatives for senior officials. Malaysia's implementation of e-government is also the subject of a number of important case studies. “Of course, one advantage we have in terms of giving the commitment is that from independence until today the continuity in terms of leadership has been very smooth,” said Minister Entulu.

Security concerns and threats of cybercrime are some of the challenges faced as the government continues to push forward its public service delivery transformation program. Financial constraints have so far acted as the main barrier preventing some government agencies from migrating to online services. In addition, a lack of talent in the field of ICT, particularly in rural areas, will need to be addressed before the government can reach its target of providing 100% of public services available online.