According to a 2017 report on wearesocial.com, more than half of the population in Southeast Asia uses the Internet. The number of new users across the region grew by more than 80 million in the past 12 months. Mobile Internet use is the driving force of this growth. Brunei leads the Southeast Asian region in Internet usage at 86 per cent with Singapore at 82 per cent.
Brunei also leads in mobile social media usage in Southeast Asia, with 76 per cent of active mobile users. Singapore comes second with 70 per cent and Malaysia is third with 65 per cent.
The Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, through the E-Government National Centre, has embarked on the Digital Government Strategy 2015-2020 driven by the goals of Vision 2035.
To realise the vision of Digital Government Strategy 2015-2020, six focus areas and six programmes have been identified. The focus areas are: service innovation, security, capability and mindset, enterprise information management, optimisation and collaboration and integration.
The programmes are: advancing digital services, implementing universal access for government systems, strengthening security output, enhancing stakeholder engagement output and optimising digital assets output.
During the 14th Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) and Related Meetings at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore in May 2018, Singaporean Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat praised Brunei’s digital government strategy that included programmes for enhanced delivery of digital services, while providing a unique identity for all citizens and businesses, along with improved tools and processes for information management.
The Singaporean minister emphasised the importance of ASEAN to come together in preparing citizens for opportunities and challenges in technological advances.
Based on the theme ‘Inclusive and Informed Digital ASEAN’, the 14th AMRI focussed on building a strong ASEAN Community through information and media, nurturing a digitally-inclusive and literate ASEAN and promoting stronger cooperation with ASEAN dialogue partners.
Digitalising the economy also comes with spreading of rumours. The Prime Minister’s Office of Brunei has devised a plan to establish an online portal to contain spreading of fake news on social media. This was highlighted by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud, during the 14th Legislative Council session.
“The Prime Minister’s Office in cooperation with the departments responsible for information and communication technology, is also planning to frame guidelines for the sensible use of social media,” said the minister.
The minister added fake news on social media would be analysed and statements would be issued to correct unverified news.
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