Digital transformation in governance is not new and has been laid out early on in many governance blueprints. A decade ago, digitalisation became an effective strategy and continues to amplify business frameworks and trigger economic stability in many markets today. In fact, notable achievements in government transactions have been recorded as far back as 2009, thanks to a shift to innovative digital methods.
While the term ‘digital technology’ may not have an exact definition, the term broadly encompasses technological advancement and its impacts on organisations. One of the goals of government agencies across the globe as information technology or IT gets more sophisticated, is to scale up procedures while decreasing costs.
Nonetheless, despite the plethora of benefits brought by technology, several key challenges continue to hinder digital transformation strategies. In a survey released in 2018, federal IT heads voiced concerns about security regarding the adoption of cloud technology. They also encountered difficulty in transferring legacy programmes to the cloud. Lack of skills in the workforce likewise constituted a major hurdle.
Necessity is the mother of invention, says the adage. In less than a year, the world saw the COVID-19 pandemic reshaping the digital landscape and accelerating digital transformation. The onslaught of the pandemic put governments on their toes to adjust their operational models and adapt rapidly to an innovative ‘remote everything’ mindset.
Pre-pandemic, the shift was meant to be gradual and incorporate standard change-management timelines. The reality today is that governments are trying to complete their digital journey, not within the coming years, but in months.
For this to happen, cloud computing and data sharing are necessary and irreplaceable lynchpins. The scope expansion and speed needed to serve and meet the demands of their citizens in the new normal can only be done by strategies that rest solidly on these two pillars.
To get a deeper insight on cloud technology and its adoption by government organisations during the pandemic, OpenGov Asia spoke with top executives of cloud tech giants Microsoft and SUSE for an in-depth interview.
Restrictions due to COVID-19 resulted in disruptions that fuelled the need for cloud technologies to ensure operational continuity. Sherie Ng, General Manager for Public Sector in the Asia Pacific at Microsoft, confirmed that digital technology is at its height with organisations accelerating their digital transformation in the last couple of months. This is particularly the case in public healthcare but is also being witnessed in other government sectors.
The pandemic accelerated the need for the digitalisation of public services for operational and business continuity. Governments needed to urgently cultivate a growth mindset, alongside efforts to ramp up relief operations and recover the economic landscape. The good news is that many governments have partnered with the company to move into the cloud platform.
In fact, in countries like Singapore, a billion-dollar increase in IT spending has been recorded. Similarly, government leaders in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines have been vocal about the need for e-government that is heavily backed by cloud solutions.
To allow rapid uptake and migration, Sherie explained that experts at Microsoft have deployed cloud solutions in different arenas to help governments transform their processes and services. One such area is ‘e-citizen services’, which deals with the tracking of critical resources and contact tracing for clients in the healthcare industry.
Microsoft has so far supported agencies in this area through a holistic and secure platform that enables businesses to configure patient profiles and incorporate them into the entire value chain. They have also organised envisioning workshops that help customers digitise current operational processes and transform their customer experience.
Sherie added that in healthcare, it isn’t just about adopting Microsoft Azure, but a re-evaluation of the entire digital infrastructure to ensure the organisation is able to manage the current crisis and become resilient to future incidents.
Sherie detailed the intricacies of cloud economics, quashing the misconception that upgrading to the cloud would have a massive impact on expenses. In fact, organisations save more from the flexibility provided by cloud technologies like Microsoft Azure. Organisations can optimise costs by seamlessly moving their existing on-prem investments, whether open-source software or proprietary, by leveraging a hybrid cloud model.
Sherie likened the concept of cloud economics to governments going up a ladder as improvements in the cloud are recorded. The cost decreases as agencies go up this ladder. The key is to think big but start small. The secret is not going all out at the outset but incremental investments in infrastructure as the needs of the organisation grow.
The most important thing, Sherie indicated, is for every business to have a paradigm shift in organisational perspective. Leaders must be stewards of innovation, with employees re-skilled and re-trained. Governments must also empower the next generation with the digital skills needed for a resilient economic future.
To address trust, security and confidentiality, Sherie added that Microsoft believes in the timeless value of privacy and preserves the ability for customers to control their data. She shared three areas that are paramount to boosting confidentiality.
- Compliance – Microsoft respects local laws and regulations and meeting compliance obligations in a dynamic regulatory environment is complex. Consulting a team of legal experts to oversee compliance is one of the methods used by the company to help businesses navigate this ever-changing landscape.
- Agility is essential – what started as a slow transition toward digital transformation pre-pandemic is now marked with speed, flexibility and adaptivity.
- Scale – although governments have proven that they can initiate a whole value chain of operations management in a few months, there must be a correlative obligation on governments to ramp up operations to scale responsibly and in line with sustainable development goals.
Studies have also shown that the transition to Microsoft Azure has resulted in 93% better energy efficiency, all thanks to a much-needed shift to automation and cloud tech.
According to Ng Hak Beng, Sales Engineer Manager, Asia at SUSE, COVID-19 is one of the major triggers for governments to fast-track their investments in cloud technology. However, this journey continues to be marred by challenges.
One of these issues is apprehension due to data security. To address this, Hak Beng stressed that some government agencies have taken the initiative in teaming up with expert public cloud service providers. He cited the current situation in Singapore, where agencies have banked on secure cloud infrastructure to streamline their transactions.
While Hak Beng admitted that issues on confidentiality may linger and that it may take a while before people change and trust the system, he emphasised that technology is gradually evolving into a hybrid cloud environment that can help address issues on confidential data.
There is now a marked improvement in the time it takes for applications to be developed. Application development used to take years when done through traditional application design methodologies. Today, native cloud programmes have enabled faster turnaround time.
The same is true in terms of scalability. Governments with large populations face scalability issues. The challenge has been addressed by cloud-native apps which are designed primarily to scale as demand increases.
In terms of costs, Hak Beng agreed with the points raised by Sherie. He dispelled the common notion that cloud technology will put a big dent in capital expenditure. The opposite, he said, is true. Cloud systems decrease operational costs because they adapt quickly to changes in the work environment. New features can be dropped and added at little to no extra cost.
This is especially true for clients of SUSE, who are reaping the benefits of using open source software for free and pay only for charges when the need arises. Hak Beng shared the advantages of open cloud technology through SUSE’s acquisition of Rancher Labs earlier this year. With this type of system, products are developed collaboratively. This makes open source technology applicable to a wide variety of industries, including the public sector.
Simplify, modernise and accelerate. Hak Beng added that this motto resonates as SUSE strives to lend a helping hand to governments who wish to simplify existing infrastructure while achieving agility and scalability to meet increasing demands.
To further explain, Hak Beng proposed that government entities consider shifting to Platform as a Service (PaaS). Agencies can dispatch non-core company functions to cloud service providers, allowing agencies to prioritise their core services. Software as a Service (SaaS) further boosts this agility by outsourcing software operation and maintenance.
OpenGov Asia also had the opportunity to get more insights from SUSE on deterring cyber threats. As cybercrime continues to take on new and more sophisticated forms, governments have become adamant about shifting to innovative operational solutions.
For SUSE, which has been at the fore of the cyber frontlines, the answer is simple. Organisations must embrace artificial intelligence which can help in detecting potential cyber threats. Additionally, security products that can scan software source codes for malware-installing multi-cloud programmes can help prevent critical cyberattacks.
When it comes to confidentiality concerns, cloud experts at SUSE believe a hybrid cloud model can assist in allaying these doubts. Under this system, data can be stored safely in one location while other applications can be stored in another cloud infrastructure. This way, the confidentiality of data can be preserved while allowing greater flexibility of services.
The enlightening conversation concluded with both SUSE and Microsoft strongly reaffirming the benefits of shifting to cloud technology in terms of agility, scalability, and flexibility. With the pandemic far from over, for now, the journey of governments across the world toward digitalisation must continue aggressively. The role of cloud service providers, then, remains critical to improving public service and sustaining economic growth.
SINGAPORE – February 2, 2023 – Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has collaborated with National Geographic CreativeWorks to unveil UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, a campaign that showcases Singapore as a travel destination from the perspective of intrepid photographers from Southeast Asia. Through photography, the campaign includes a virtual exhibition which encourages travellers to explore the city-state’s cultural diversity and hidden spots, by taking a moment to observe the unseen beauty of destination Singapore.
Running from 2 February 2023, UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will showcase a collection of photographic works through a virtual exhibition, captured and curated by six photographers from across Southeast Asia. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE features the works of:
- Amani Azlin from Malaysia
- Tino Renato from Indonesia
- Chanipol Kusolcharttum, better known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
- Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
- Gab Mejia from the Philippines
- Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
In curating the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE collection, each photographer visited Singapore in mid-2022, covering areas in Singapore that showcase nature, heritage buildings, cultural sites, and art. Each presented their vision of an UNSEEN/SINGAPORE through ways that resonate with their passions and personal experiences.
The photographers ventured across Singapore, going beyond its famous attractions and iconic skyline, to discover spots equally captivating – from charming neighbourhoods to lush and thriving offshore wetlands and a lighthouse at the island’s edge.
“We aim to inspire travellers to Singapore to rediscover the joy of travel once again. One way is to portray our destination in a different light, by helping visitors to see it afresh through another person’s eyes. UNSEEN/SINGAPORE set out to do this, through the lens of talented photographers from Southeast Asia, who tell their journey of discovery through photography. We hope they will inspire a new wave of visitors to discover a Singapore reimagined,” said Mr John Conceicao, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, STB.
“If you want to experience a country, you have to go down a layer below into the more local stuff to get a feel of what the country is. For people who’ve already visited Singapore, they should try and look for some of the unorthodox locations which they probably missed in their previous visits because
there’s a lot more to Singapore with the culture and heritage,” shared Jayaprakash Bojan, a full-time photographer and documentary filmmaker who advocates conservation via visuals and participated in the campaign.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE is part of STB’s efforts to boost travel recovery through SingapoReimagine, a tourism campaign that highlights new, innovative and unexpected experiences in Singapore to audiences worldwide.
Between January to December 2022, Singapore recorded 6.3 million international visitor arrivals. Visitor arrivals were driven by strong demand from Singapore’s key source markets, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.
Get to know the photographers
Amani Azlin from Malaysia
Amani is a multi-disciplinary visual artist who expresses her passion for minimalism through her work for various local brands. When Amani is taking pictures, she goes in with her camera and doesn’t give it too much thought. It’s all about taking pictures in the moment and only scrutinising them afterwards. For her, it’s about capturing candid, unscripted moments in daily life, even when she’s travelling in a different country. As the only female photographer in the group, she offers a fresh take on travelling to must-visit sites with her passion for slow travel rather than touch-and-go experiences.
Jayaprakash Bojan from Singapore
Jayaprakash Bojan was National Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year 2017. He is a nature-wildlife conservation artist whose work focuses on wildlife photography abroad. As someone who has lived in Singapore for around 7 years, the pandemic has pushed him to explore his own neighbourhood (particularly Pasir Ris Park) rather than places abroad. With this project, Jayaprakash rediscovers his home, Singapore, from a different perspective.
Tino Renato from Indonesia
A self-taught travel, food, portrait and still life photographer, Tino started his journey when he was younger, starting out with a film camera, and it remains his favourite medium for taking his pictures. For him, it’s all about capturing the raw moments of a place and its people and making them the focus of his pictures. It is what makes his photos appear simple while adding depth to the story as we can witness in the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE project.
Chanipol Kusolcharttum, also known as “Rockkhound”, from Thailand
After a few years of working as an air steward and travelling the world, Rockkhound decided to pursue and kickstart his passion for photography as a career, enabling him to continue exploring the world. The photographer-cinematographer from Bangkok started his photography journey about 10 years ago on Instagram while embracing the philosophy of slowing down to truly live in the moment and enjoy the scenery all around him when he is out and about. His style is to deliver motion and emotion, such as looking for an interesting composition to give some movement to still architecture in Singapore. He runs a production company in Bangkok, holds workshops and shares photo and filmmaking tips on his YouTube channel.
Phạm Gia Tùng from Vietnam
Tùng enjoys the photographic process – from scouting a location to finding new angles and setting up his shots, no matter how long it takes. The Hanoi-based photographer focuses on taking photos from angles people rarely consider, and constantly learning ways to improve his photography. Even though he has visited Singapore many times before, this project gave him the opportunity to appreciate and capture Singapore’s nature and people differently.
Gab Mejia from the Philippines
Gab is a National Geographic explorer and is passionate about wildlife photography and conservation. In 2021, he was awarded the World Wildlife Fund For Nature International President’s Youth Award and was also listed on the 2021 Forbes Under 30 List for The Arts in Asia for photography. His story started when his dad took him mountain climbing, sparking his interest in the natural world and the stories he could discover and capture behind it. His vision for this project is to show a different side of Singapore, capturing moments of the wild and pockets of nature.
UNSEEN/SINGAPORE will be open to the public on www.nationalgeographic.com/unseensingapore from 2 February 2023 inviting visitors to reimagine Singapore. The virtual exhibition will showcase each photographer’s ‘room’ based on their thematic-led collections. Viewers will be able to virtually visit many parts of Singapore including locations such as the Sim Kwong Ho shophouses, Pulau Ubin, Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle, Jurong Lake Gardens, Changi Chapel and Museum, and more.
To view the UNSEEN/SINGAPORE virtual exhibition, visit
To watch behind-the-scenes of UNSEEN/SINGAPORE, visit www.facebook.com/VisitSingaporeMY.
Singapore’s Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, S Iswaran, and the European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, signed the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership (EUSDP), a comprehensive framework for all areas of bilateral digital cooperation between the EU and Singapore.
The partnership covers various aspects of the cross-border digital economy, including digital trade facilitation, secure data transfers, electronic payments, and standards and compliance. It also addresses cutting-edge areas like artificial intelligence (AI), digital identities, and 5G/6G. The partnership aims to enhance broader participation in the digital economy by collaborating on digital skills training for employees and the digitisation of businesses and public services.
The EU-Singapore Digital Trade Principles, the first outcome of the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership, were signed by Iswaran, as stated in a press release. This marks the beginning of a legally binding digital trade agreement between the two sides. The principles facilitate cross-border data transfers, reduce costs through electronic trade documentation and authentication, and enhance online consumer protection for people buying goods and services online.
Minister Iswaran and Commissioner Breton agreed to exchange best practices and/or develop projects in AI governance and standards and digital identities. The two sides will facilitate cross-border digital transactions and support SMEs’ digital transformation and digital skills. They also said they anticipate more joint projects between Singapore and the EU, including the EU Member States, in partnership with the private sector.
Iswaran stated that the EU-Singapore Digital Partnership strengthens connectivity and interoperability between the digital markets of the EU and Singapore. It will enable Singapore citizens and businesses to transact digitally more seamlessly and at lower costs. As a first deliverable, the officials launched a set of Digital Trade Principles, marking the first step towards a bilateral digital trade agreement that provides legal certainty for cross-border digital trade.
Digital infrastructure, such as data centres and submarine telecom cables, plays a crucial role in enabling cross-border connectivity between countries and regions. To create a secure, resilient, and sustainable digital environment for individuals and businesses, both sides will work together to promote digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, to support trusted cross-border data flows and data sharing, Singapore and the EU will work on the application of model data protection contracts and provide guidance for their use. They will also exchange information on the infrastructure and governance frameworks needed to facilitate data sharing.
The two sides will also cooperate on information sharing in platform governance and regulation. To drive the development and uptake of 5G and beyond 5G technologies, they will research use cases and possible areas of collaboration on R&D pilots. To support the deployment of AI, Singapore and the EU will encourage interoperability on AI governance, standards, and testing frameworks. Both sides will also explore cooperation on AI testbeds and research collaboration on AI.
Singapore and the EU have a strong economic partnership, built on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA), which came into effect in November 2019. The EU is Singapore’s fourth largest goods trading partner globally, with bilateral trade in goods totalling SG$ 102 billion (US$ 78.1 billion) in 2021, which accounted for 8.8% of Singapore’s total goods trade. The EU is also Singapore’s second-largest services trade partner globally, with bilateral trade in services exceeding SG$ 67 billion (US$ 51.3 billion). Investment relations are strong, with the EU being Singapore’s second-largest foreign investor and largest overseas investment destination.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics carried out the Digital Leadership Academy (DLA) Programme to educate regional leaders and managers of commercial firms. The course seeks to improve the digital leadership capabilities of governors, regents, mayors, and business leaders. The government offers 500 training scholarships to public and commercial sector digital leaders.
This year, the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ Human Resources Research and Development Agency cooperates with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Human Resources Development Agency to organise the training.
“We will conduct training and visits for 20 regional heads in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and we have already decided on Korea,” told Hary Budiarto, Head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Research and Development, at the Press Conference of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics Digital Talent Provision Programme in Central Jakarta.
Hary noted that the DLA programme’s training and visitation in 2022 had been fully completed for 20 regional head participants, with Singapore serving as the destination country. The initiative will introduce another 20 regional heads in 2023, with the Ministry of Home Affairs determining the regional head qualifications. The chosen region will be picked based on various criteria, such as districts and cities with low inflation or high digital community indexes, among many others.
Last year, the ministry cooperated with the BPSDM West Java Province to host a Smart Digital Leader for the West Java Champion course. They have agreed with the Regional Secretary to choose the theme of Dignified North Sumatran Smart Digital Leader for North Sumatra, which will be completed in March.
Apart from the public sector, the DLA programme collaborates with the business sector, including the Indonesian Telematics Society (Mastel) and a U.S. tech company focusing on digital infrastructure. The event will have 200 attendees.
The DLA programme is one of the Ministry of Communication and Informatics’ digital training programmes meant to address the needs of national digital talent. President Joko Widodo has declared this programme a priority to advance the country’s digital transformation.
According to Abdullah Azwar Anas, Minister for Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB), digital leadership has become crucial in today’s increasingly connected society. He mentioned that leadership would become one of the options for success in managing foundations and organisations. In terms of digital leadership, it is expected that a public leader is more responsive and technologically literate to capture messages from the public and guide the organisation in the proper direction.
Digital skills are also required to assist the government in implementing an Electronic-Based Government System (SPBE). The SPBE architecture is intended to facilitate thematic bureaucratic reforms, such as the RB eradicating poverty, the RB raising investment, and the RB accelerating the President’s genuine priorities. He emphasised five talents required for digital governance. Digital leadership skills, digital professional skills, digital socio-emotional skills, digital user skills, and 21st-century skills in society are among them.
Furthermore, when it comes to digital leadership, leaders must possess two digital talents: hard and soft skills. Mastery of public sector theory and methodology on hard skills such as organisational theory, public sector human resource management, and public policy analysis, he stated, needs to be revised. As a minor subject, it requires help for mastery of theory and methods from other disciplines, particularly competence in digital technology.
Meanwhile, leaders must have analytical skills to analyse critically and propose problem-solving ideas. A leader must also be proficient in public speaking, English, coding, creativity, dispute resolution and negotiation, and teamwork.
Two tech companies operating under Hong Kong’s Smart Government Innovation Lab have rolled out solutions that are now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.
Solution I – Heritage Conservation Platform
The company under the Lab has proposed a comprehensive solution for heritage conservation that encompasses data capture, 3D modelling, and online visualisation of realistically rendered models. It supports a variety of capturing sensors and raw data types, including camera images, LiDAR point clouds, and RGB-D data, and can be used with stationary, handheld, robotic, or UAV platforms. With high-precision modelling, realistic texturing and rendering, and a lightweight web-based visualisation platform, this solution is ideal for archiving, exhibiting, renovating, and educational purposes.
The solution was designed to be applied in the areas of City Management, Education, Infrastructure, Recreation and Culture as well as Tourism.
The solution employs the latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics, Deep Learning, Mixed Reality as well as Virtual Reality.
In Hong Kong, there are 132 declared monuments and over 1000 historic buildings with significant heritage value. To safeguard and preserve this archaeological and architectural heritage, a comprehensive 3D surveying record is essential for future preservation and monitoring against potential damage or destruction.
Currently, LiDAR scanning and image records are widely used for digital preservation, but the disorganized data and large size make them difficult to use and constructing 3D models from raw scanning data is time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The company has developed a cutting-edge AI-assisted algorithm that can accurately convert raw captured data into 3D models at a cost-effective price. The structured 3D models have the advantage of low data volume, ease of access, and meaningful information for engineers. The solution offered is modular and covers the entire process from data collection to 3D model generation and online visualization, offering great flexibility.
To raise public awareness, promote participation, and enhance cultural tourism, the company provides a realistically rendered 3D model and a lightweight, web-browser-based visualization that can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.
Solution II – LifeOnline: Smart Personal Emergency System for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers face various dangers on a regular basis. LifeOnline is a tool that keeps officers, especially those working alone in remote areas, connected with their team. In emergency situations, officers can seek help from their supervisor by pressing an SOS button on their smartphone. If they encounter danger, such as falling from a height or a medical emergency, the smartwatch will notify their team.
Using long-range wireless communication technology, LoraWAN, officers can stay connected even in remote areas covered by the government’s GWIN IOT network. If necessary, portable LoraWAN gateways and concentrators can further extend network coverage. The compact size of the smartwatch allows it to be used as standard equipment for law enforcement officers in their daily operations.
The solution was designed to be applied across the areas of Health as well as Law and Security.
The solution employs the latest in Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as Mobile Technologies.
The officers are connected with their teams and could get help in dangerous and emergency situations.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MeitY), Alkesh Kumar Sharma, inaugurated the G20 Cyber Security Exercise and Drill for over 400 domestic and international participants as part of India’s G20 presidency.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) held the Cyber Security Exercise and Drill in a hybrid format. International participants from over 12 countries participated online. Domestic participants from various sectors like finance, education, telecom, ports and shipping, energy, IT/ITeS, and others attended both in person and virtually.
Speaking at the event, Sharma highlighted the fact that cyber incidents are becoming increasingly sophisticated and disruptive. They have transnational impacts and there is a pressing need for collaboration to build collective resilience against cyberattacks.
Sivagami Sundari Nanda, the Special Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), stressed the importance of a government-wide response to address cyber challenges, including cooperation with law enforcement agencies both domestically and internationally.
The event held a strategic tabletop exercise (TTX) and an operational drill using a CERT-In exercise platform. The first tabletop exercise catered to board and top management and was themed Synergy to counter Global Cyber Crisis. It focused on crisis management and crisis communication.
The second tabletop exercise, an operational drill was designed for CISO and mid-management, themed Building Collective Cyber Resilience. The scenario for the exercise, which included cyber extortion, data breach, supply chain attacks, and disruptions was derived from real-life cyber incidents, in which domestic-level (limited impact) incidents escalated to a global cyber security crisis. The exercises were successful in meeting their objectives and provided insights on enhancing and improving crisis management, crisis communication, incident response, and global coordination and cooperation.
Cybersecurity plays an increasingly important role as the world becomes more reliant on technology. Cybersecurity forms the backbone of a strong digital society, providing a trusted environment necessary to grow digital transformation and the confidence needed to advance digital adoption. Concurrently, strong cyber capability protects the economy from losses due to cybercrimes and builds the foundational capability to grow the emerging digital technology sector.
India has worked with several countries to build resilience against cyberattacks. Last year, CERT-In and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) designed and conducted the cybersecurity exercise “Synergy” for 13 countries. The initiative was part of the International Counter Ransomware Initiative-Resilience Working Group, which was led by India under the leadership of the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS).
The theme of the exercise was ‘Building Network Resiliency to counter Ransomware Attacks’. Similar to the G20 cybersecurity drill, the exercise scenario was derived from real-life cyber incidents. As OpenGov Asia reported, the specific objective of the exercise was to assess, share, and improve strategies and practices among member-states to build network resiliency against ransomware and cyber extortion attacks.
The exercise ‘Synergy’ was hosted by CERT-In on its exercise simulation platform. Each state participated as a National Crisis Management Team, which was made up of different government agencies including National CERTs/CSIRTs, law enforcement agencies (LEA), communication and IT/ICT ministries, and security agencies.
CERT-In was launched in 2004 by the Department of Information Technology and is currently run under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. CERT-In responds to cybersecurity incidents, reports on network vulnerabilities, and fosters effective IT security practices throughout the country. Under the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In oversees the administration of the Act.
Market merchants in Quezon City, Philippines, can now apply for and book spaces and booths online using the Market One-Stop Shop platform (MOSS). According to City Administrator Michael Alimurung, the portal would identify “legal” vendor spaces free of impediments. It is also part of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte’s ambition of making the city a desirable business location.
With the new system, the city government promises a smooth application process for renting a stall, including payment and collection of market rentals. This will also make the city treasurer’s office’s job easier because they will no longer have to collect rent in person.
To ensure that the new system is widely adopted, the local administration put free Wi-Fi connection points in barangay halls and hundreds of other public venues. A caravan will be launched to assist existing and prospective vendors in registering with the platform.
“Imagine treating the entire city as a public market. This method allows us to locate vendor locations online. It’s thinking broader by allowing us to treat the entire city in terms of how to assist our vendors,” Alimurung told at a press conference at Quezon City Hall.
Margarita Santos, director of the Quezon City Business Permits and Licensing Office, stated that the system would not replace any positions, such as market masters or market managers, but would make their tasks easier.
She stated that the MOSS would use a “first in, first out” queuing system and offer a five-year contract to the first vendor that applied for the space or stand. However, if they cannot satisfy the requirements within a specific number of days, they will be returned to the bottom of the queue,” Santos noted.
Market inspectors will check IDs supplied to registered merchants to guarantee that the correct renters occupy registered booths. Currently, over 12,000 sellers occupy public market stalls in the city. Those are our objectives. In addition, we want to incorporate 43 private markets.
According to Santos, the MOSS would also assist in eliminating red tape and corruption, such as those who reserve marketplaces and then rent them out to other merchants. Because this is an online system, we have a digital trail that allows us to see where the application took too long, who is at fault and admonish them.
Santos added that the system would also record vendor transgressions, which might result in losing their registration area or stall. She stated that registered vendors would be queued online once these areas are full until free space becomes available.
Procopio Lipana, Programmes and Projects Officer, stated that the site would make it easier for the city government and other law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend unlawful sellers. Quezon City has an anti-hawker division and market inspectors who verify stall sizes and look for illicit merchants.
Indonesia is also working to improve digitisation in the conventional sector. Indonesia’s Ministry of Trade has targeted digitising 1,000 traditional markets and one million MSMEs as part of its digital transformation strategy. There are now 2,047 traditional markets that use local market websites through the Trade Facility Information System (TFIS), ten traditional markets that use digital marketing, and 51 conventional markets that operate QRIS for non-cash transactions.
According to Vice Minister of Trade Jerry Sambuaga, 326 traditional markets in 42 sub-districts have implemented e-retribution, 106,702 local traders, and 9.7 million MSME dealers have made non-cash transactions through QRIS.
The government of Indonesia’s digitalisation efforts have helped the country attain IDR980 trillion (US$ 63 billion), or 5.7% of GDP, by 2021. Indonesia’s GDP is predicted to reach IDR24 trillion (US$1.5 trillion) in 2030, with the digital economy accounting for 18% of GDP, or approximately IDR4,531 trillion (US$ 290 million).
Indonesia’s Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) worked with five ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand, to provide cross-border payment through QR. In a series of events at the G20 Bali Summit, the five ASEAN countries agreed on Regional Payment Digital Connectivity. The collaboration will make the Indonesian Standard Quick Response Code (QRIS) more widely available in five ASEAN countries.
The Ministry of Communication and Informatics welcomed the discussion. Usman Kansong, Director General of Information and Public Communication at the Ministry of Communication and Information (Kemkominfo) asserted that the ministry supports efforts to integrate payment systems through QRIS ASEAN.
“Because it is related to the digital economy, Kominfo is very supportive; we will provide the infrastructure. For example, we are also putting together an internet network,” said Usman on the sidelines of Jakarta’s 2023 ASEAN Indonesia Chair Kick-Off event.
The five countries’ central banks have held discussions on various occasions to implement cross-border payment system connectivity in the region. Bank Indonesia began payment system connectivity cooperation with other central banks in the area, initially with five countries in the region.
The agreement will be documented as a memorandum of understanding (MOU). At the same time, this initiative demonstrates Indonesia’s regional leadership in implementing the G20 agreement.
Regional Payment Digital Connection among 5 ASEAN Countries, according to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo, is a physical representation of how digital connectivity in ASEAN is an example for other countries to help economic recovery in each country regionally.
“Wherever we go in these five ASEAN countries, we can utilise QR payment, QRIS in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, and it will be a rapid payment system, instantly,” Perry explained.
Meanwhile, according to Esther Sri Astuti Soeryaningrum from an economic and finance NGO, the introduction of QRIS will aid financial integration in ASEAN. At the same time, there are still some hurdles to tackle. However, she mentioned that QRIS, as a non-cash transaction method, can help collaborating countries make cross-border payments easier without needing a money changer.
“With QRIS, we don’t have to worry about converting rupiah currency for other currencies, and we don’t have to do cash transactions, which are riskier and require a higher level of security,” she explained.
Moreover, the Indonesia Central Bank (Bank Indonesia/BI) expanded its payment cooperation network with Japan in December. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (NK) addressing QR-based payment by BI and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI). Dody B. Waluyo, Deputy Governor of BI, stated that the partnership on QR-based payment between BI and METI Japan would be a key concern for regulatory authorities and industry, given that the NK in question has the potential to strengthen economic relations between Indonesia and Japan.
The QR-based payment collaboration aims to accelerate cooperation on the implementation and interoperability of cross-border or country payments using QR codes, specifically the QR Code Indonesian Standard (QRIS) and the Japan Unified QR Code (JPQR). Furthermore, this collaboration will create a framework that permits QR-based payments between the two countries and other parties, such as payment system operators (SP).
The agreement marks the beginning of BI and METI Japan’s collaboration to carry out various activities related to the interconnectivity of QR-based payment systems, such as policy dialogue, technical cooperation, and the formation of working groups to ensure goals are met, such as efforts to implement QR-based cross-border payments to support people-to-people transactions in both countries. This collaboration is expected to promote payment system digitisation in both Indonesia and Japan.