by Lim Kit Siang - Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong
in Petaling Jaya
on Wednesday, 8th January 1997

Malaysia should expedite the introduction of electronic government and declare 1997 the Year for On-line Government Services for various Ministries to compete in this field

Speaking at the presentation of the Prime Minister’s Quality Award on Monday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad expressed confidence that the Malaysian civil service would be the the first government agency in the world to achieve the ISO 9000 quality standard by the year 2000.

From the mass media reports about the many avoidable government bunglings during the opening of the new school year early this week, with schools either not completed in time, or did not have enough furniture or starting without headmasters, it is clear that the Malaysian civil service has still a long way to go to achieve top world-class standards in quality service and planning.

Mahathir said that the launch of the Multi-Media Super Corridor was another effort by the Government to offer efficient service to public, as it would be “a multimedia networked paperless administration linking government agencies within Putrajaya to and with government centres around the country to facilitate a collaborative government environment and efficient service to citizens and businesses.”

As Malaysia wants to be a pioneer in electronic government, it should not wait until the completion of the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya in 1998 to introduce electronic government.

The Malaysian Government should take a bold decision to expedite the introduction of electronic government and declare 1997 the Year for On-Line Government Services for the various Ministries to compete on the Internet to provide services to the Malaysian public.

The Malaysian civil service should be aware that expediting the introduction of electronic government in Malaysia should be supported for at least three reasons:

Firstly, the civil service has the technology and capability to begin to progressively introduce on-line government services. What is needed is a new mind-set for the Information Technology era.

For instance, BERNAMA has an “Hotpress” website on “Latest news from Bernama” (URL:, which is updated twice a day. However, during weekends, this site is closed down. This is an example of a pre-IT mindset, when IT has broken down the traditional barriers to the movement of information, namely distance, location, time and volume. The reason why BERNAMA is incapable of providing “latest news” every day of the week on its website, or even regular updating daily as and when the latest news break, is not for lack of technology but the proper mindset!

Secondly, Malaysia should not lose out in the race to introduce electronic government as many other countries are already quite advanced in this field.

Thirdly, the government must be a role model/user of IT to encourage IT-literacy among the people, so as to position Malaysia in the forefront of the IT revolution.