drive towards electronic public services reaches
back as early as 1998, where Deputy Prime Minister
Lee Hsien Loong, at the launch of COMDEX promised
that 'key public services' would be available electronically
by 2001. But e-government still leaves much to be
THE Government will be accepting credit-card payments online
by year's end, if the Infocomm Development Authority of
Singapore's (IDA) plans to promote secure electronic payment
comes to fruition.
might just be the ticket to jumpstart the lacklustre development
of electronic government transactions here.
Just log on, slip out your good old Visa card, and pay your
road tax or HDB conservancy charges while you order books
the age of e-services, we shouldn't need to figure
out which department handles what transactions
fact, IDA should take into account debit cards that, unlike
credit cards, have no minimum income requirement and are
thus available, in theory, to anyone with a bank account.
would make the prospect of paying for Government services
online much more palatable to a population, than using clunky
is, what took them so long?
drive towards electronic public services reaches back as
early as 1998, when Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
promised that ''key public services'' would be available
electronically by 2001.
we're officially in the 21st century, but e-government leaves
much to be desired.
Centre portal, launched in 1999 as the cyber-shopfront
for e-government, promised to deliver a one-stop, non-stop
integrated public service to the citizen.
promise is far from becoming a reality, international accolades
are far from fully accessible online, even though some agencies
have acquired flashier Web fronts.
the simple things that fall short of expectations, like
filling in paperwork and having queries answered.
Land Transport Authority's http://www.onemotoring.com.sg
is touted as the ''gateway to all your motoring needs'',
but still requires you to fill in forms for all but one
perhaps, in the early years of the Internet - but certainly
not now, when fast, one-stop e-transactions are de rigeur
for e-commerce sites.
oddly enough, the development of Government websites is
far from even, almost as if each agency has been left to
its own devices to develop e-services.
on the ball nowadays, when portals like Yahoo! and Lycos
have brought together diverse content into integrated, one-stop
promise of e-government means more than a wholesale upload
of existing paper-based services on to the Web.
want to stop running from agency to agency when making applications,
for instance. But online, they are still running - they're
switching from .gov to .gov.
can be collapsed and combined across different agencies.
to buy a house? We should be able to fill in a single online
form and have our housing, parking, power supply and telephone
lines all sorted out at once.
beyond simply paying bills and fines online, e-government
portals - by virtue of their resources, reach and credibility
- could become truly one-stop convenience portals for all
kinds of services citizens would use.
stop at public services? Why not shop for and hire an approved
contractor for renovations at the same time?
check out new cars, and book a new stereo system when we
pay for road tax?
Singaporeans don't - and shouldn't need to - think like
the age of e-services, we don't need to figure out which
department handles what transactions, or whether a service
is supplied by a public agency or some privatised statutory
beauty of electronic transactions is in its speed and transparency.
rules, checks and policies can be built into the system,
without the user having to leap through multiple hoops and
if they already have all our personal particulars, why fill
in all those forms in triplicate?
electronic services could be the perfect answer to cutting
through red tape.
at electronic income-tax filing: flawed, but probably the
most successful Government service online, with over a third
of all taxpayers e-filing last year.
made short work of income tax filing - surely one of the
most tedious and rules-bound Government transactions anywhere.
more, it enjoyed a tremendously successful publicity blitz,
employing an extensive public education programme that handheld
newbie users through the process.
same cannot be said for other Government e-services.
is a step in the right direction. But where are the integrated
services? And where are the citizens?
needs to be done to develop integrated services online,
not just free forms for download.
public awareness of new services can be upped with more
extensive education programmes.
order to reap the full benefits of service provision in
the Internet age, electronic Government services need a
concerted push, not the hotchpotch, solo agency approach
did it before when we launched Giro in the 1980s. We can
get our act together again.
the Ministry of Finance has now been charged with realising
the e-government dream.
we can junk those $60 Cashcard readers. And pay by Visa.