“Tech-savvy Singaporeans will soon have more say and enjoy much greater convenience in how they consume public services” (Engaging The Tech-Savvy With E-Government Masterplan, Miss Rachel Chan).
Greater accessibility and interactivity of new media platforms have been defining trends in the twenty-first century, as highlighted in the article “Engaging The Tech-Savvy With E-Government Masterplan” (June 21, 2011) by Miss Rachel Chan; therefore, it is imperative for the incumbent administration to customise the assortment of online public services. In particular, the proposal for one-stop access to present government data, channels and e-services would definitely increase convenience and corresponding usability; while the mGov@SG portal would be a good platform for the sharing of various applications – developed by agencies – for new generation smart-phones.
Beyond the provision of essential services and tools for a multitude of purposes – from public transportation updates to the checking of Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts – active citizenry on the Internet should be given more credence and recognition. As Singaporeans spend more and more on-the-go time on the Internet, many have also developed a reliance on websites and online commentaries to remain updated on current affairs and community issues. In fact, the proliferation of available information has seen a proportionate rise in the number of users regularly publishing their perspectives on specific policy issues, as well as a variety of grassroots considerations.
The high level of activity on the online journalism webpage Stomp for citizens “to keep abreast of local issues”, as pointed out by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, has the potential to translate into more constructive discourse on socio-economic issues. The critical mass achieved in terms of the numbers of users and content generated will be significant for future ground-up initiatives, with a more involved and engaged population.
Leveraging on new media avenues can be facilitated through a number of ways. First, spontaneously maintaining updates on articles published online, especially those relevant to present debates, or pieces that present propositions that have gained traction in popularity and reliability. Second, expanding the functions of Reaching Everyone for Active Citizenry @ Home (REACH), and seeking to render feedback mechanisms more inclusive, productive and attractive in participation. Third, online policy groups can be instituted to gather like-minded individuals to publicly provide discourse on a plethora of concerns – from healthcare, cost of living to affordability of public housing – with the eventual publication of recommendations or resolutions for beneficial debate.
The opportunities for virtual engagement in Singapore are diverse and vast; if the government does not seize the opportunity to speedily involve interested Singaporeans in the aforementioned endeavours, feelings of apathy or lethargy might unfortunately continue to manifest.
A version of this article was published in My Paper.