“People-centric” has started to become a familiar word for Thai citizens; we have realized bit by bit that we possess the right to have a say to determine the country’s future as well as to participate in any campaigns that will benefit the country’s development. That being said, many countries have been using civic engagement as a way forward for quite some time now. Do you know which role their citizens play?
United Kingdom: Let the citizens decide!
The United Kingdom is one of the countries where referendums are held frequently to respect its citizens’ decisions. It shows that the country follows a fully democratic method, which means what is decided together shall be everyone’s responsibility despite the outcomes.
The world-shocking decision on “Brexit” is a prime example; if the majority has voted to leave the European Union, the UK government needs to respect the result and leave the EU.
Although appalling, it is a proof that it really holds its citizen’s opinions in high regard. Consequently, British people always see themselves as the key actors of the country and play a major role in the making of laws and policies.
Singapore: Citizens are its employers!
“Because the world is in constant changes, we need to find new and better ways to serve our people.” said a government officer of Singapore who has shared some thoughts on policy innovation in the “Policy Innovation Exchange 2” seminar.
He said that government services should be involved in every step of our lives from birth until death. How cool is that!
One in six populations in Singapore will be 65 years old in 2050. In response to this issue, they have already prepared many policies for the elders such as using sensors to monitor the elders’ movements. When the sensor cannot detect “usual movements”, it can be assumed that they might have encountered an accident, therefore the government will be able to send any officials to help and assist them in time.
South Korea: Citizens are its companions!
South Korea’s mission to transform into a digital-driven country cannot be achieved if its citizens are not an integral part. The road to digital transformation is that South Korea’s government has established “more institutions to increase more opportunities in support of digital technology” since the late 1990s which, as a result, has helped 80 percent of South Koreans to be able to access the internet.
However, the government’s key mission has focused on making the internet accessible to the underprivileged and people living in rural areas. The government opened internet courses for the citizens so that more than 10 million South Koreans can send emails, use search engines, and download files by themselves. These are also inclusive of the disabled, the North Korean immigrants who have never used the internet before, and the poor for whom the government has supplied more than 160,000 computers so that they can practice and be proficient in using them.
Yeongi Son, a former director of the aforementioned institution, has sent former President Obama a message telling him that “if you are really determined to decrease the digital divide, you need to establish a proper institution to close the gap” similar to the South Koreans who have also walked on the road of full democracy since 1988. If we want to succeed together, we need to push forward together with all our effort.
Estonia: Citizens can be themselves.
Estonia is famous for seamlessly transforming a traditional government system into an e-Government. Since leaving the Soviet Union, it has put an emphasis on the digital system. Moreover, the Estonian government has also consistently implemented many digital policies in all sectors.
Estonians are the one who benefits the most as the government facilitates them in every respect with the internet. This lessens the sanctity of state officials and government sectors to only service providers. Moreover, many policies are designed under the concept of “seeing humans as humans.” As a result, government data can be reviewed under a centralized system that everyone can access. More importantly, the citizens also have the right to access and protect their information; they will be notified every time the state officials try to access it. They can choose which data they allow or don’t allow the state to review. For instance, they can choose that the state can only see their medical treatment histories.
No state officials can take advantage of the citizens’ information. Thus, Estonians can live their life safely under the agreement written under the Constitution stipulating that the state shall protect its people with all efforts.