Moving in time with technology
Borneo Post - Thursday, 19 December 2002
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State agencies must accept non-restricted forms downloaded from Internet: State Secretary

By Raynore Mering

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has taken its e-government objective a step further by requiring all State agencies to allow non-restricted forms to be obtained by the public through the Internet.

State Secretary Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Husain said the State's IT and Resources Council had decided during its latest meeting on Monday that these forms should be downloadable on the web.

He said some agencies had insisted that they would not accept downloaded forms on the account of paper and print quality, and even on the account of the colour of the forms.

"Such thinking and mindset do not match that of the State government," he said at the presentation of awards for the Best State Government Agency Websites at a dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel here on Tuesday.

"All agencies are required to publish their official forms for the public to download and use over the web, and agencies must accept these forms as valid and legitimate," he said.

Aziz said if the agencies needed help in converting their forms to a downloadable format, they could seek advice from the ICT Unit of the Chief Minister's Department.

He asserted that State agencies must recognise that in the future, they might do away with the forms altogether, and the public would submit their service requests and applications through online forms.

He said this would happen when the Federal government had fully developed and implemented a national system for online identification and verification or when the State had developed its own interim registration system for its online users and customers.

Earlier, Aziz said the web was an indispensable communication and service channel and it would be even more important and strategic in the future.

"As society becomes more developed, more connected and ICT becomes more affordable, the web will become the key communication means to reach and interact with the customers.

"State agencies are requested to accept this fact, and to continue to develop their websites to cater for the increasing sophistication and demands of their customers," he said.

However, Aziz conceded that the web would not totally replace the more traditional communication channels as there was still room and scope for personalised and hands-on services.

But the web if utilised properly, he said, would augment and elevate the quality of service of the traditional service channels.

He said it could be used to offload the low productivity and tedious services from the traditional service channels and it was also a very important platform to help the State government achieve its ICT vision of service anytime and anywhere. "The web eliminates time and geographical constraints, and it is the only viable technology in the foreseeable future that has this capability," said Aziz.

Aziz also reminded all agencies of the State government's policies on websites. He said all State government agencies must maintain a website, all agencies would be responsible to maintain their own website, all websites must be registered with the ICT Unit, and a central portal site for the State would host the agency websites. Similarly, Aziz said it was important for webmasters of agency websites to continually improve their skills and knowledge to follow the rapid changes and development in industry and technology.

Moreover, he said it was important for them to continuously improve to cater for the ever increasing sophistication of the demands and needs of the public.

He said he wanted to see more interactive transactions on websites in the future. "Currently, the focus is on information publishing and this is the first phase. The next phase should see more actual services being delivered over the web, so that the public will be able to access and transact these services 24 hours a day and 365 days a week," said Aziz.