Good governance practices in Malaysia: The role of digital transformation

Good governance practices in Malaysia: The role of digital transformation
"Good governance practices in Malaysia: The role of digital transformation"

The National Digital Blueprint 2021–2030 was introduced by Malaysia in 2021 as a digitalisation framework. The blueprint, derived from the concept of digital transformation, is a nationwide effort that embodies the government’s aspirations to elevate Malaysia into a high-income, digitally-empowered nation that takes the lead in the digital economy within the region.

However, to benefit the nation and its citizens, Malaysia should prioritise the enhancement of digitisation transformation. This will involve incorporating all principles of good governance, which in turn will lead to improvements in social development, adherence to the rule of law, and the delivery of public services.

Good governance involves the effective use of economic, political, and administrative power to oversee a country’s affairs at all levels, while adhering to universal standards and practices.

The United Nations has delineated a set of principles that define good governance, including participation, adherence to the rule of law, transparency, consensus-building, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency, equity and inclusiveness, and responsiveness.

Therefore, by incorporating each of these principles as the primary foundations in Malaysia’s digitalisation transformation, good governance practices can be significantly enhanced.

Undoubtedly, integrating each of these principles into the process of digital transformation is an intricate exercise. Systems Theory offers methods to reduce the intricacy. The theory adopts a comprehensive approach that highlights the concepts of unity, interconnection, adaptability, and feedback loops among the components of a system, as well as their impact on the entire system, with the aim of attaining a shared objective. The digital transformation fundamentally enables the comprehensive implementation of good governance, following the principles of Systems Theory.

This article is to highlight the significance of Malaysia harnessing the advantages of the ongoing digitalisation transformation through the integration of good governance principles. This will be achieved by examining several instances of effective governance measures currently being implemented in developed countries that have a substantial influence on the promotion of good governance.

For instance, the principle of participation in good governance is crucial in promoting a feeling of ownership, trust, and cooperation. This principle aligns with the idea of wholeness and interconnectedness in Systems Theory. For example, Iceland has a deliberative assembly called Better Reykjavík. Residents of Reykjavík are encouraged to participate in this online consultation forum to share their thoughts and opinions on the operations and services provided by the municipalities. Users engage in forum participation by sharing their ideas, perusing the ideas of other users, engaging in debates, expressing their opinions, and evaluating arguments in support of, or against them.

Malaysia should also enhance the principle of participation in good governance by implementing a digital transformation at the national level. For example, digital crowdsourcing platforms can be employed to gather ideas and solutions from community members. This enables citizens to collaborate and jointly develop policies and programmes that accurately represent the needs and preferences of the community.

The digital transformation also has the capacity to create interconnectedness among all stakeholders. This can be achieved by promoting the integration of data, allowing for instantaneous communication and collaboration, consolidating systems and platforms, capitalising on the Internet of Things (IOT) and intelligent devices, utilising cloud computing and digital platforms, and harnessing analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

An additional illustration involves integrating the principle of the rule of law into the process of digital transformation. The law guarantees equitable and impartial treatment for all individuals, irrespective of their position or status. South Korea, Estonia, and New Zealand are presently employing a Single Window of Legal Assistance platform. Individuals are given the chance to support particular causes, start, and endorse petitions using digital platforms. This not only promotes a higher degree of citizen involvement in understanding the basic principles of the legal system, but it also enables the legal system to be flexible, thereby enhancing its effectiveness and applicability while upholding its core principles and priorities.

Malaysia should further improve its implementation of the rule of law by embracing digital transformation. For instance, digital transformation can enhance efficiency in court processes, case management, and administration systems including the digitisation of public inquiries, the implementation of electronic filing systems, and the expansion of electronic courtrooms. This automation should enable the system to identify alterations in its environment, analyse information related to these alterations, and implement suitable modifications to enhance the efficiency and overall functioning of the judicial system.

Incorporating the principles of effectiveness and efficiency in digital transformation is crucial for achieving the goals of government institutions, providing efficient services to citizens, and responsibly and sustainably utilising resources. The transformation will seamlessly incorporate this principle by utilising the concept of feedback from Systems Theory. The Australian Bureau of Statistics platform provides an extensive range of statistical data on various topics, including the environment, society, economy, and population. The platform’s efficient feedback system enables objective and easy access to data, aligning with its mission to promote effective and efficient governance practices.

Malaysia should adopt the principles of effectiveness and efficiency through feedback initiatives. This approach entails implementing mechanisms to actively seek, gather, analyse, and address feedback from stakeholders regarding the government’s actions, policies, programmes, and services. An illustration of this would be the implementation of diverse channels that enable stakeholders to offer feedback, including online suggestion boxes, hotlines, online platforms for public meetings, and surveys, all of which contribute to the advancement of the nation.

The presence of effective governance is crucial in order to bolster Malaysia’s prosperity. In order to accomplish this objective in a pragmatic manner, Malaysia should integrate each of the principles of good governance into the ongoing national digital transformation projects.

Choosing the appropriate project to implement is essential in ensuring a substantial impact on enhancing national prosperity through good governance practices.

Brigadier General Ir Ts Dr Shahril Ahmad is an Army Officer from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Malaysian Armed Forces. He is a Course Member of the National Resilience College, Putrajaya. 

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