In conversation with Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, ICT Minister from Thailand on how he applies lessons learnt from other countries in the region to improve the country’s public sector IT and e-government.
Q: Which countries, in Asia or outside, do you see as being role-models for Thailand?
In Asia, the countries that have shown the highest achievement in ICT development are South Korea, Japan, and Singapore.
Q: What is the best lesson learnt from South Korea in term of ICT development?
South Korea faced severe economic crisis in 1997. Similar to us, it received a loan from International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the government’s spending. Unlike other countries, South Korea, with the IMF’s money, adopted a policy called ‘Dynamic Korea’ to focus on ICT investment that not only spent on hardware and software, but also on ‘peopleware’.
The South Korean government educated its citizens on the way to leverage ICT while increasing access to broadband. ICT has been one of the key factors in South Korea’s economic growth.
Q: How about Japan and Singapore?
Japan has been leveraging ICT to manage natural disasters. It has proved to be the best model for Thailand as well, in terms of optimising telecommunications networks for disaster alerts and response. Without the benefits provided by ICT, the recent Tsunami could have been even more catastrophic in terms of losses.
Singapore, for a long time, has been widely recognised for its status as the world’s best in terms of e-government services and paperless operations. Singapore’s government has successfully provided its citizens with a number of efficient e-government applications through a variety of mobile devices and platforms.
Q: Is Singapore a suitable role model for Thailand in term of e-government services? Why or why not?
Yes, it is broadly suitable. However, implementing e-government is a dynamic enterprise. We can adapt Singapore’s e-government concept to suit our cultural and socio-economical context.
Singapore is a small country that focuses mainly on driving the finance sector to increase economic growth. Thailand, on the other hand, is a much bigger country, and it is still largely agrarian. We have significant rural and urban gap, which I believe ICT can play a critical role in bridging, especially in the areas of health, education and agriculture.
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