Malaysia’s vision for ‘end-to-end’ digital services

There are long hours and early mornings in the kopitiams of Ipoh, where patrons enjoy the town’s famous white coffee with buttered toast and eggs. Business owners would once have closed their shops and queued up to renew their permits. But with services now online, these small businesses can spend more time on their work or at home with their families.

For Malaysians, almost 90 percent of public services are already online. The digital services unit in the Prime Minister’s Office is busy working to streamline them, making digital transactions as smooth and painless as possible.

By the end of 2020, Malaysia plans to make 40 percent of its public services “end-to-end”, says the deputy director of the Application Development Division at the Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU). This is “a service that from application until approval is done through online, and do not have to go to the respective agencies for any verification”, Hanissull Jalis bt Md Yusof tells GovInsider. This includes e-filing for tax payments, and an online service for university and college applications.

National digital identity to drive the economy

End to end services require a digital identity system so that the government can verify who is making a university application or paying their taxes online. In August, a new national digital identity initiative was announced to “provide reliable authentication and enable a platform for trusted digital devices,” said Gobind Singh Deo, Minister for Communications and Multimedia.

Citizens will not need to remember different usernames and passwords for various services, or carry multiple tokens to perform digital transactions, reported the New Straits Times. Eventually they will be able to transact on any device, even abroad, for any government service. Private sector will benefit as well, and use this digital identity system to verify customers, collect digital signatures or perform secure transactions. In this way, the government hopes to support online businesses and the digital economy, according to a statement.

The Malaysian government is prioritising this to ensure that it caters to evolving citizens’ needs and demands. “The challenge is of course, the more sophisticated needs from the citizen in which we need [to provide] more online services,” MAMPU’s Hanissull remarked at the recent GovInsider Live conference in Bangkok. “Also the engagement for the citizens, and higher expectations from the younger generation – they want fast, they want quick services.”

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Increasing trust

In her keynote presentation at GovInsider Live, Hanissull also shared how Malaysia wants to tackle “integrity and trust issues – these are the things that we have to monitor”. In response, the government has come up with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030: “Our main three objectives is to ensure the income gap and the people’s wealth be looked into; to create a more structured, progressive and knowledge based economy; and to become a greater Malaysia,” she explained.

To deliver this vision, MAMPU will promote effective service delivery, monetary stability, and “comprehensive and inclusive big data”. Digital government will also enable the digital economy in the years to come. “Policy, legal framework and governance, strengthening whole-of-government in our digital transformation, data driven government to raise our rankings, and also new partnership models with ICT ,” Hanissull said.

The country has a clear goal to become a big data and analytics hub in the region, and wants to produce 2,000 data scientists and 16,000 data professionals by 2020, reports Disruptive Tech ASEAN. At the same time, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation will present a paper on the opportunities of AI and data to the government this year, according to the communications and multimedia minister.

“Malaysia, located in the heart of Southeast Asia, is well-positioned to be the leader in research and development of ethics in AI and big data,” Minister Gobind was quoted by the New Straits Times as saying.

These moves highlight the growing desire within the Malaysian government to increase transparency and become more citizen-centric. Soon enough, the kopitiam owners of Ipoh and their loyal customers will find it that much easier to interact with the government.

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