Covid-19 delayed the daily activities of Sarawakians, providing a harsh reality about the number of things needed to carry out in person.
Digital government apps and services suddenly became very crucial to the continuation of Sarawakians’ daily lives, with services as such Sarawak ID and Sarawak Pay.
With Sarawak Pay, it became possible during the restricted movement phase to pay utility bills from the safety of one’s homes, thereby lightening the burden of Covid-19 and the subsequent movement restrictions on Sarawakians through contactless pay.
Surprisingly Sarawak ID garnered 191,486 registrars throughout the MCO (movement control order) which started on March 18, logging a 33 percent increase over a six-month period.
Inspired by Estonia, where 99 percent of its public services are available online, Sarawak ID is the Sarawak government’s digital identity initiative to coordinate ease of access by Sarawakians to government services. To date, 585,688 users have registered with Sarawak ID.
There are various public services accessible via Sarawak ID which can be accessed through a Single Sign On (SSO) ID which include Government to Community (G-C), Government to Business (G-B) and Government to Government (G-G) services. These include 20 government services, such as e-Recruitment (Job Application Management System), e-Scholarship (Biasiswa Pinjaman Kerajaan Negeri Sarawak), PayBills Sarawak, Sarawak Pay, Online Sarawak State Government Facilities Booking System (e-booking) Electronic reservations (government agencies), Sarawak Data, and other services.
“The benefits of Sarawak ID are that a variety of public services are accessible via a single platform, thereby easing and facilitating services for the public, saving time and energy, as well as being safe to use,” emphasised Mohd Faizal Ibrahim, Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) administrative officer during a Sembang Digital Normal Baru radio programme on RTM, who said that the increase in digital needs and government services can be seen to be moving in tandem and complementing each other.
“The government has also provided assistance, such as Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang, where financial assistance has been channelled through the government’s e-wallet initiative, Sarawak Pay,” he said.
One of the enablers for the digital government sector is digital and data. With Sarawak Data, a public sector open data portal, the general public and members of the business community can access and download open government data, which can then serve as building blocks for them to create new products based on public feedback and information provided.
The relationship between open data and the five principles of digital government which is open, data-centric, innovative and also provides excellent service delivery and digital governance is closely related and complementary between data, government and the general public.
A more recent use of open data is in enabling the government to manage and control the spread of Covid-19. Under Open Government, information can be used, for example, by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and related agencies to identify and contact members of the public when necessary. The latest information and statistics on Covid-19 and important information are also easily available and accessible.
“Besides that, with information shared by various agencies such as the MOH, the police force (PDRM) and armed forces (ATM), the government can be a one-stop information centre or data-centric government, with all information correct and authenticated by relevant agencies.”
When information about Covid-19 is easy to find, then the public can take appropriate precautions after learning the current status of the virus. This enables the government to provide excellent service delivery to the public as it can also refer to the latest statistics of the pandemic easily.
This digital innovation has enabled the development of movement control systems such as QMunity and CovidTrace for public use.
Furthermore, this dedication towards creating a seamless approach to collecting and transmitting data between stakeholders, decision makers and the public was recognised with a Malaysian Technology Excellence Award (MTEA) by Singapore Business Review 2020 in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 22 for Sarawak Disaster Management Committee’s initiative for developing i-Alerts and enterSarawak.
With this recognition, it’s clear that the path towards e-governance is not just a dream, but only a matter of time.
About Azam Sarawak
Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) which means a “Movement for Progress” is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation which seeks to facilitate development efforts in Sarawak through promoting development communication.