Make digital literacy a priority

LETTERS: The world is afflicted with a new pandemic called digital fever. All countries are gripped by the urgency to embrace the digital economy.

Failure to digitalise can be to the detriment of productivity, now a key determinant of business success. It is not just the manufacturing sector that has to transition towards digitalisation. Increasingly, the services sector has to go digital to remain relevant.

Government services must also shift a large portion of their operations to the digital sphere as countries try to effectively combat low productivity and growing expenses.

Among the digital tools, artificial intelligence (AI) has been the subject of much discussion lately. There are ethical and security concerns about AI that must be addressed. This is where digital governance is critical.

Digital governance concerns the use of digital technologies to enhance governance processes, decision-making and service delivery.

But inadequate Internet infrastructure and limited digital literacy in certain regions or among specific demographics can create disparities in accessing digital governance services.

With the increasing use of digital platforms and data collection, ensuring the privacy and security of citizens' personal information becomes crucial.

The risk of data breaches, cyberattacks and misuse of personal data is seen as posing significant challenges for digital governance.

The effective use of digital governance requires citizens and officials to possess adequate digital skills.

The lack of digital literacy can hinder the adoption and acceptance of digital governance tools and services. Digital governance often involves multiple platforms and systems that need to communicate and share data seamlessly.

The transition from traditional governance practices to digital governance may face resistance from stakeholders who are accustomed to conventional methods.

Convincing them to adopt new digital approaches requires effective change management strategies.

Striking a balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding public interests is crucial.

Digital governance projects often require significant financial investments and skilled human resources.

Limited budgets and resource constraints can pose obstacles to the implementation of comprehensive digital governance programmes.

Public officials may lack the knowledge and expertise to effectively use digital tools for governance processes.

Training is essential to equipping them with the necessary skills.

Addressing these challenges involves collaboration between the government, private sector, civil society and international organisations.

Prioritising digital inclusion, data privacy, cybersecurity and continuous capacity-building can help overcome obstacles and foster good digital governance practices.

Additionally, engaging citizens in the design and implementation of digital governance initiatives can enhance their acceptance. Clearly, digital governance is crucial as the world embraces the infectious digital economy. Malaysia is no exception. We have to be aware of the many risks associated with digitalisation.

More efforts are needed to increase our digital literacy. This is where the education system must incorporate learning about the risks and opportunities of the digital culture at an early age. Admittedly, one major risk concerns cybersecurity. We need to invest more in developing the right tools to effectively manage the security concerns of a digital economy.

We are fortunate that the government pays serious attention to improving the security and safety of online transactions. It has been suggested by some that we may even need to invest in a dedicated R&D centre on digitalisation.

The centre can coordinate the research efforts done in universities and relevant institutes, ensuring the nation's digital governance is put in more secure hands.


Tan Sri Omar Centre for STI Policy, UCSI University

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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