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[ASEAN-Korea summit] Civic participation, digital tech key topics at public service minister meeting

BUSAN -- South Korea and Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries discussed ways to enhance civic participation in policymaking and to foster innovation for public services Tuesday.

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety hosted the Ministerial Roundtable on Public Service Innovation on the sidelines of the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit in Busan.

The ministers in charge of public service innovation in Korea and ASEAN member states gathered for the discussions under the theme of “Building better governance: bringing better future for all.”

In his opening remarks, South Korea’s Interior Minister Chin Young stressed the need for new approaches in government operation in the face of complex challenges that the international community faces, including economic uncertainties and social inequality. 


South Korea’s Interior Minister Chin Young poses for a photo with participants of 2019 ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Roundtable on Public Service Innovation, held at Bexco in Busan, Tuesday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
South Korea’s Interior Minister Chin Young poses for a photo with participants of 2019 ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Roundtable on Public Service Innovation, held at Bexco in Busan, Tuesday. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Three topics were discussed at the roundtable: citizen engagement and government innovation; digital technologies and public services; and capacity-building of local government and regional development.

“Voluntary and active participation of citizens in the policymaking process provides a broader perspective and helps strengthening the government’s capability. The development of digital technology improves the outcome of governance and enhances transparency and responsibility,” Chin said.

Onfa Vejjajiva, deputy secretary-general of the office of the Public Sector Development Commission of Thailand, touted ASEAN for being a supportive organization in which members can work together to solve common issues and that the states regard Korea as true partner in development.

“This event is a great opportunity for ASEAN and Korea to share ideas, learn from the experiences of one another so that we can collaborate on interesting and challenging issues for citizen participation, digital government and how to foster innovation for great progress in public administration and services,” she said.

As part of such cooperative efforts, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambodia on Monday to support the country in setting up a comprehensive plan to establish its e-government system.

South Korea is one of the top countries that offers the best e-government systems, according to a United Nations E-government survey, which measures the use of information and communications technologies to deliver public services.

The ministry also has been working closely with Indonesia and Brunei to transfer its knowhow and technology for digital public service such as electronic certificate and e-customs clearance system.

“Many countries are willing to emulate our e-government. E-government system is compulsory, not an option, to realize innovation and reform of public service,” said Lee In-jae, assistance minister for planning & coordination of the Interior Ministry.

High-ranking officials of ASEAN member countries shared their best practices on each topic discussed at the meeting.

Brunei’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports presented its effort to engage with youth, who account for 37 percent of its population, to reflect their needs and concerns in policies as the country faces challenges of digital economy and unemployment.

The country encouraged the voices of young people to be heard by holding a nationwide youth survey and arranging a meeting between youngsters and cabinet ministers.

Thailand introduced its UN public service award-winning initiative called “self-reliant solar energy community.”

The project enabled all households in the Nong Ta Tum subdistrict, which did not have access to basic power, to receive electricity generated by solar energy.

The project was made sustainable by establishing a self-reliant alternative energy learning center for the community. The learning center was able to train individuals from the community to become technicians and promote revolving capital for purchasing solar energy equipment.

“The key for the success was collaboration among private companies, the community as well as the central and local governments by offering and combining batteries, solar panels and their commitment altogether,” Onfa Vejjajiva said.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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