Problem of government websites becoming cobwebs is not one of regular updating but lacking of a IT culture and mentality among the top ranks of government bureaucracy


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): After the New Sunday Times  revelation that most government websites contain  static and outdated information, the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Halim Ali has come out with what he thought is  an instant solution by issuing a directive to  heads of department to ensure that their respective websites must be regularly updated to ensure accurate information.

Apart from  ensuring one or two updatings before the government websites return to their cobweb status, how can such a directive make the government IT-savvy as Halim admitted that it had been "the standing instruction for some time now" that  heads of departments must be responsible for their respective websites?

Even the Prime Ministerís Department website, of which Halim should bear full responsibility, is also guilty of languishing without updates for long periods in IT terms!

In fact, I dare say that the majority of the department heads do not even visit their websites and have no or little interest or understanding of the importance of IT, and if this is true, how can they be responsible for their departmental websites?

The Chief Secretary should reveal figures to show the percentage of departmental heads who are IT-illiterate, who cannot use computers or are uncomfortable with information technology.

The problem of government websites becoming cobwebs is not one of regular updating but lacking of a IT culture and mentality among the top ranks of government bureaucracy.

I reject Halimís excuse for the government websites turning into cobwebs. He said:  "We must acknowledge that this is something new. The fact that most of the government departments have their own websites is an achievement by itself.

"Maybe some of the departments lack the manpower but this should not be a setback. Efforts are under way ... maybe there are some weaknesses but the process of staff training is ongoing."

What is so great about having websites, when primary schools and even primary school children now have their own websites!

  I find it most shocking that  Halim can  try to find excuses for the government shortcomings in the field of Information Technology on the ground that this was something new, when for the past  three years in Parliament, I had repeatedly called on the government to be the model user in information technology to provide more efficient, cost-effective and responsive services to the public.

Halim  may not know that a human year is generally equated with five internet years, and this would mean that the top government leadership had squandered away 15 internet years and  yet do not know, or it would not  comfort itself with the excuse that IT is a "something new".

With such an atittude at the top government leadership, I do not think Malaysia can make the grade to take the quantum leap into the Information Age, despite the ambitious plans of a Multimedia Super Corridor.

(26/1/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong