How can Cambodia make the most out of e-government?
Early this year the Cambodian government started to invest more in communication technologies for its day-to-day operation, and Prime Minister Hun Sen believes it will reduce the national expenditure while improve efficiency.
Since 1993, when the government first took its office, at least 350 officials from across the country held their weekly cabinet meeting with the PM in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s largest capital city. The introduction of the technology will transform the way the government communicate, interact, and to provide services to the public in a more transparent way.
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An informed, in a December 2009 letter, all governors that the regular cabinet meeting will take place over the Internet, using video conference (also known as video teleconference).
“We are moving towards e-government, and we will continue to install video-conferencing systems at all regional military headquarters for commanding soldiers,” said PM Hun Sen. Cited time and budget as the main reason, the government goes further to “to establish video-conferencing links with Asean members and other world leaders.”
Madhav Ragam, Director of Healthcare & Lifesciences IBM Asia Pacific told FutureGov that: “there is an opportunity for Cambodia to ‘leapfrog’ other developing countries and avoid past mistakes.”
In terms of e-government, Cambodia is ranked as one of the lowest in Southeast Asia. However, the country will spend at least US$35 million to invest in the e-government project, getting all its municipal and provincial offices to conduct business and administrative works online.
The IBM expert, however, noted in September last year, that there are three keys areas that the Cambodian government have to focus on:
- improve network connectivity, both in terms of bandwidth and access points.
- key internal government systems need to be established.
- to establish a presence for government online.
The second point raised by Madhav Ragam is very essential. Quite a good example is this successful e-visa service: http://www.cambodiaevisa.com/. The Internet site, began in 2006, is being hosted not in Cambodia, but Malaysia; and it was until June last year that it was reportedly hacked for financial reasons. And it turns out that a new site, http://www.cambodiaonarrival.com/, has been introduced to after the hack. Although it bears Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the site header, there is doubt that there is any credibility and affiliation with the government. However, this official site on the Mininstry of Foreign Affairs should be seen as more vaild: http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/e-visa/vindex.aspx. Traveler Preetam Rai, who regularly uses the e-visa to travel to the Kingdom and praises it for its convenience, mentions about the online servce here.
On Friday, just one day after opposition party leader Sam Rainsy was found guilty and sentenced in absentia to two years prison for uprooting border markers on the frontier with Vietnam by Svay Rieng provincial court, the party president, now in France, began providing more evidence via video teleconference technology in hope to defend himself.
Associated Press has the detailed report: Sam Rainsy led a group of villagers in pulling out the markers as a way to dramatize his claim that Vietnam is encroaching on Cambodian territory, an issue he often raises to garner political support. The incident occurred in October of last year. Cambodia’s Parliament stripped him of his immunity from prosecution in November.