April 2006

News Review – Asia

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Asia

Sri Lanka takes steps to legalise e-Transactions

Sri Lankan parliamentarians have unanimously passed a new law that strengthens the legal validity of electronic transactions thus paving the way for safer e-Commerce in the country. In bringing the law to parliament, the ICT Agency – a state agency established to promote the use of information and communications technology in Sri Lanka, played a prominent role.

Jayantha Fernando, legal advisor of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka, said, “While we initiate efforts to focus on technological developments, the importance of ensuring parallel developments in the Legal framework is essential. Electronic commerce has considerable potential for developing countries, but the positive impact expected from it would be reduced if users were confronted with doubts as to the legal value of electronic

Chinese daily urges politicians to set up weblogs

The Chinese newspaper People’s Daily has urged the Chinese lawmakers that they would be provided assistance in setting up and maintaining blogs or weblogs that would enable them to communicate with the people better. The newspaper said that the delegates at the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) can apply to start their own online journal, which will be hosted on the People’s Daily website at blog.people.com.cn, which is available in Chinese.

Tang Weihong, the manager of the blog site, said, “The public wants to know what the NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members are doing. Many deputies and members are also willing to tell the people about their work. Although 5,000 deputies and committee members are eligible to post blogs, only eight have so far taken up the offer. We hope such blogs will help the NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members to better communicate with the public.” Currently, there are some 16 million Chinese citizens who have their own weblogs.

commercial transactions after conducting costly modernisation of communication systems,” and added, “The law would provide a firm foundation for e-commerce transactions and give formal recognition to e-mail communications. It also gives recognition to electronic signatures, and provides a structure to be established for rules to be laid down in the future.”

It may be noted that entrepreneurs had so far been refraining from high value business to business transactions due to uncertainty surrounding e-Transactions, which resulted in the slow growth of e-Government activities. “Most countries including India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Korea and Singapore have introduced e-Transaction legislation to recognise this activity based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on e-Commerce of 1996 and the Model Law on e-Signatures (2001),” Fernando pointed out.

WHO urged for IT assistance in health sector

Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sri Lanka Healthcare and Nutrition Minister, has urged the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assist Sri Lanka in introducing easy and cost-effective IT system for the transformation of the health sector. He made this appeal while addressing a workshop to introduce the IT system to Sri Lanka’s health sector jointly organised by the Health Ministry and the WHO.
Pointing out that Sri Lanka was moving towards e-Governance, de Silva said, “Many elite organisations have come forward to help developing countries to transform the health sector from manual to computer management system. They even provide new highly profile computer systems as a gift. But when we are to replace them in five years it becomes a burden due to its high cost. We have to achieve high productivity. Our health indicators are on par with international standards. We have to go one step further. What we urgently need today is a comprehensive system to have a detailed report of our human resources and other assets in the health sector.”

Citizens, officials hold online dialogue in Vietnam

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) in Vietnam for the first time enabled the Minister and five deputy ministers and high-ranking officials and the Vietnamese citizens to talk online regarding issues that included natural resources, water, the environment, hydrometeorology and minerals. The online dialogue was held on March 16 by the MoNRE on its website, www.monre.gov.vn.

Mai Ai Truc, Natural Resources and Environment Minister, said, “Direct dialogue through the Internet between government offices and the people is one of the necessary and practical activities of e-Government. The participation of more officials ensured that citizens’ questions were answered more quickly and more specifically. Importantly, through talking with the people and enterprises also made MoNRE’s officials more sympathetic to the requirements, problems and aspirations of the people and enterprises, making them increasingly responsible in their jobs.”

Hoping that the relations between MoNRE and the people and businesses would be further strengthened through this ‘new bridge’, Ai Truc further said, “The areas that MoNRE manages are mostly sensitive. The ministry wants access to the facts through direct opinions from the people and businesses while the people and businesses, I think want to express or ask for responses from our ministry. MoNRE has organized direct meetings with people and enterprises, announced its email address and telephone numbers of officials and established a hot line. However, all of those things seem to be insufficient. Apart from the above forms of communications, we are thinking of organizing direct dialogue with the people and business on Vietnam Television (VTV) and the Voice of Vietnam radio.”

1,600 local governments in Philippines are now web-enabled

According to National Computer Centre estimate, over 1,600 local governments in key cities, provinces, and municipalities in the Philippines have put up their own websites till December 2005. The NCC records indicated that there are currently 74 provinces, 112 cities, and 1,489 municipalities having their own websites – roughly 98% of the total of 1,696 local government units in the Philippines.  It may be noted that the e-Commerce law in the Philippines mandates that government should have some form of web presence.

Tess Camba, director of NCC Field Operation Office, said, “The NCC began helping local governments set up websites since May 2002. In September 2002, the NCC spearheaded the eLGU project to facilitate development of local government websites. The NCC is now following the United Nations-American Society of Public Administration (UN-ASPA) standard for putting up websites. It comes in five stages, starting with web presence as the first stage and a full-integrated and interactive portal as stage five. To date, no local government unit has reached Stage 4 or 5 of the UN-ASPA stages for e-government.”

“This year, our focus as far as web presence is concerned is to continue to assist the provinces, cities and first, second and third class municipalities with Internet access points in their locality to upgrade their websites to either Stage two or three. We also hope to be able to establish more citizen-centric websites with the piloting of at least one LGU website per region,” Camba added.

Marikina to set up

e-Court

The city government of Marikina in the Philippines has decided to set up an e-Court and has allotted PHP5mn (US$978,091) for this. Currently, the city has two courts under the Metropolitan Trial Court and four under the Regional Trial Court.

Ma. Lourdes Fernando, Mayor of Marikina, said, “The city government is coordinating with the Supreme Court for the E-court. The setting up of an e-Court would facilitate inquiries of the cases such as schedule of hearings as also making details accessible to the public through the Internet.”

The E-court would feature a video camera and television for video conferencing, where the statements of children involved in cases would be taken in a separate room thus protecting them from trauma. E-court would also computerise the transcription of court hearings so that a computer can reproduce the notes within hours.

e-Governance for Bangladesh’s Titas Gas by April

The state-owned gas company in Bangladesh, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd, would be introducing e-Governance application by April 2006 so as to process its new industrial connections. Titas and Bangladeshi software company Business Automation Ltd, recently signed an agreement under which an online application processing and tracking system for the industrial clients of Titas Gas would be developed. Besides, an Intranet and Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity between the head office of Titas and its regional sales

offices at Savar and Joydevpur would also be set up.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Communication Minister Nazmul Hoda while addressing the 21st annual conference of Roads and Highways Engineers Association said that his ministry would also launch Information Communication Technology (ICT) with e-Governance for further development as well as proper maintenance of the country’s communication network.

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