BG Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister - Speech Launch of Teck Ghee eClub And The eCitizen Helper 3P Partnership, Teck Ghee Community Club ...
BG Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister - Speech
Launch of Teck Ghee eClub And The eCitizen Helper 3P Partnership, Teck Ghee Community Club
Singapore, 16 March 2003
Ladies and Gentlemen
A Better Life with the Internet
Computer technology has changed our lives in many ways. With e-mails and the Internet, we can keep in touch with our family and friends, whether they are in Singapore or overseas. We can look for information worldwide, buy things, book cinema tickets, donate to charity, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Government can also deliver better services to the public. For example, over 900,000 taxpayers are using the Internet to file their income tax returns, which is faster and more convenient. Passport applications used to take 2 visits to Singapore Immigration and Registration (SIR) and 7 days to process. Now, by applying on line, it takes less than 3 days, and costs $10 less. Long queues at the Registry of Marriages have disappeared, because couples can now book auspicious dates online. So it is a good fusion of tradition and technology.
Keys to e-Services
For Singaporeans to fully benefit from e-Services, they must have three keys.
The first key is to have access to a computer and the Internet. Currently, every other household in Singapore has computers and Internet access at home. But not all Singaporeans own computers. So the Government is putting in a huge effort to make sure that every Singa-porean can get access to the Internet. Schools are completely wired up. So too our national libraries. The People's Association, together with its corporate sponsors, are setting up a network of 22 eClubs in housing estates to provide broadband Internet facilities to residents. This morning we are launching the Teck Ghee eClub.
The second key is to know how to use the Internet. Some Singaporeans do not use e-services simply because they do not know how to use the Internet. Most can eventually learn to use the Internet, but they need someone to hold their hand and guide them through the first few times, to overcome the initial unfamiliarity and lack of confidence.
An important source of help is the Infocomm Development Authority's National IT Literacy Programme. Most of the courses are run in PA's community centres and community clubs. The new e-Clubs are another source of help: they conduct courses, run workshops, and organise events to help familiarise the public with the Internet. I encourage all those who need help to enrol in these programmes.
The third key is SingPass. This is the easiest step, once you get past the first two keys. It is a single password that allows you to get services from the government with security and privacy. Today, you can access 100 government services using one password. Within two years, 400 government services will be available. I encourage those who have not got their SingPass yet to visit the CPF booth and get one on the spot.
Despite these efforts, there is a group of Singaporeans, especially older citizens, who cannot cope with the Internet. This is where the eCitizen Helpers come in. They are stationed at all eClubs. eCitizen Helpers will be on hand to guide users in accessing government services online, whether it is to encash ERS shares, check CPF statements, or to register a new business. IRAS will also deploy 400 volunteers to help Singaporeans file income tax returns.
eCitizen Helpers is an existing programme run jointly by the public and people sectors. I am pleased today to launch a major extension of the programme, to bring in the private sector. The service will now be available at 19 Fuji Film shops across the island, as well as the NTUC Fairprice's Office 1 outlet at Marine Parade Central. At the Fuji Film shops, Singaporeans can take passport photographs and apply for new passports online at the same time. They can also access all Government e-services at the Office 1 outlet.
Because this is an important investment in our people, the Government will bear all costs and the service is free of charge to the users.
This new partnership between the people, private and public sectors (3P) is an important step to prepare our people in the Internet age. I commend the People's Association, FujiFilm shops and NTUC Fairprice for their participation, and hope that more from the private and people sectors will join in. It is now my pleasure to launch the Teck Ghee eClub and to inaugurate the eCitizen Helper 3P Partnership.