Since the beginning of World Wide Web, governments have been caught up with what geeks call the “Web 1.0” era. We have seen e-mails slowly replacing snail mail and letters, websites speeding up publishing of vital information, and bits and pieces of data being stored handily in computers. Computer programs, instead of personnel, provide much of the work for governments to get going.
Today, the “Web 1.0” era has been succeeded by the so-called “Web 2.0”, making government functions more interactive and complex. We search information brought by “wikis”, or web pages that anyone can edit. We post blogs, access data through the Internet, and open programs by using browser windows rather than loading hard disks, as it was in the past. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, or China’s Weibo, have replaced e-mail through sending of instant messages. Sharing videos from any part of the world is now possible through sites such as Youtube or Youku, and free phone calls are now made between computers through Internet connectivity or mobile data networks. These advancements speed up sharing of information at little cost and maximum efficiency.
This gives the public sector hope to establish e-government systems, wherein citizens do not only benefit from, but also own, the services rendered by the state. Thanks to e-government, we are evolving into the “citoyen”, a French term used to represent a politically involved citizen. Technology does not only make government service delivery more efficient; it also amplifies the muted voices of our citizens. They can blog, send e-mails, and be heard in social networking sites.
There is no doubt that e-government helps the public sector deliver on promises. I am sure that today, without the online infrastructure working in the background, running on large servers and big data storage capabilities, we will not be able to achieve much at all.
However, the measure of e-government efficiency does not simply mean additional computers, faster internet connection, or state-of-the-art facilities, just like what most governments of the world have today. In a complex, dynamic society, we need governments that allow for cultural change necessary to realize the potentials of e-government.
With e-government increasingly becoming a global issue, there is a need for international cooperation and sharing of information, knowledge and experience in the said field. This “International Seminar on E-Government and Modern Governance” is a timely response to that need. This seminar provides the much needed international forum for academicians and practitioners to exchange ideas, visions, knowledge and good practices. It also serves as a springboard for continued dialogue on e-government and modern governance.
English clergyman William Pollard once said, and I quote: “The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” The success of e-government today may not be applicable to the problems that may arise in the future. I hope that after this seminar, we will be able to learn from the present successes and failures of modern governance, and use them to further the use of technology for sustainable development—one that will be sufficient for the challenges ahead.
Thank you very much and I congratulate and salute our partner, the Chinese Academy of Personnel Science, under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, for this pioneering effort and leadership in good governance in the region.