"You have to use these devices to deliver your services. And you have to use these devices to hear their voices," a senior Korean envoy to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said yesterday. Further adding that governments should listen to the people through more direct means.
Noting that Brunei has more than 100 per cent mobile phone coverage, along with the increasing use of "smartphones", Seong Ju Kang advocated the use of that technology to open up another channel of communication with the population.
If people had something to say to the government, they can use mobile phones to send a message or email, the minister-counsellor of Korea's permanent delegation to the OECD told The Brunei Times.
"By using your mobile phone, you can suggest some (shift) in (the) policy agenda. As a citizen, you can send your (thoughts), your interests to the government."
Seong said that this was the engagement and participation of the public to the policy process, whereby the government could also raise awareness by providing the people with access to "open data" on policies and leaders.
The channel could also be used by the public to make suggestions on more micro socio-economic aspects in "daily life".
The diplomat believed that lack of communication with people were among the factors that led to the political turmoil seen in Egypt.
He recalled that the youths in the North African nation were concerned about their jobs and their future, "but they did not have the chance to talk with the government".
Thus, the demonstrations ensued. "Many young people, they used smartphones to communicate together to make something for their future," he observed.
"If the Egyptian government had the channel or mechanism, that kind of direct participation mechanism, those kind of (public tension) could be removed or released. It is possible."
This was among the benefits of capitalising on technology in public governance.
"If the government talks directly with the citizens, they can monitor what the people are thinking. (Then) they can make policy (appropriate) for them," the minister-counsellor said.
Acknowledging that an electronic influx of public voice could be over-saturating, Seong advised that a mechanism be installed "to screen" the comments and suggestions through the use of filters, the parameters of which are set by the government. The filter could look for specific keywords within the remarks, and the system could detect and decide automatically, whether to remove or forward the concern to the attention of the relevant agency. "You need to develop that kind of mechanism."
The Korean envoy was the keynote speaker at the opening of the e-Government Innovation Centre (eG.InC), a new research and capacity-building facility housed at Universiti Brunei Darussalam, in cooperation with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
Seong shared that the e-Government initiative in Korea, for which it is currently ranked first globally, was a source of innovation for the country to become more efficient, particularly in business-related aspects.Through this, e-government can increase national wealth, become a "multiplier" of labour and capital, and facilitate a "productivity paradox".
With Brunei in the midst of its e-Government initiative, the Korean envoy stressed the strategic role IT could play for Brunei, "as a sustainable engine of growth". "A small country can be a leading country in e-Government or IT. Why not?" he commented.
The Brunei Times