Electronic Sarawak Govt Activities Bill 2022 to allow e-signing, documents passed in DUN

Julaihi delivering his winding up speech on the Electronic Sarawak Government Activities Bill, 2022 in DUN on Nov 22, 2022.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 22: The Electronic Sarawak Government Activities Bill, 2022 which seeks to “e-enable” State government service delivery, including legal recognition of electronic communication such as digital signature between the government and the public in dealings, was unanimously passed in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) today.

Minister of Utility and Telecommunications Datuk Julaihi Narawi said this Bill provides for the legal recognition of electronic communication in dealings between the government, local authorities and statutory bodies incorporated by State laws with the general public.

“It will also provide for the use of electronic communication to fulfil legal requirements under the State laws; and enabling and facilitating the dealings between the government, local authorities and statutory bodies incorporated by State laws with the general public through the use of electronic means and other matters connected therewith,” he told the august House today.

With the passing of this Bill, Julaihi pointed out that the use of digital and electronic signatures as well as documents and prescribed forms to be kept, retained, submitted, delivered and served will be allowed.

“A license, permit, approval or authorisation can be issued electronically, an electronic register will be set up and payment can be made online and receipt can be issued electronically,” he added.

Prior to this amendment, Julaihi emphasised that not all government services can be delivered online under the existing statutory framework as many of the current State laws were enacted when the use of digital technology is still foreign.

“These State laws still require, for instance, signatures to be in written form, documents to be submitted in hard copy, documents to be served personally or by registered post, etc. The adoption and utilisation of digital technology may be restricted due to the statutory requirements under these State laws.

“Hence, to enable the implementation of digital government, our State laws will have to be amended to become ‘e-enabled’. However, it is not practical to amend each and every State law,” he said.

As the Federal level already implemented the Electronic Government Activities Act 2007, Julaihi emphasised that it is of utmost importance for Sarawak to have its own law providing for the same legal recognition to use the electronic means in government service delivery at State level.

“With this, the Sarawak government is moving toward achieving its aspiration in providing 100 per cent end-to-end digital government services. It also sets the foundation for the digital transformation and digital economy of the State.

“It is in line with our Premier of Sarawak (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) aspiration for Sarawak to secure its future as a modern and leading digital economy and society by 2030,” he added.

Meanwhile, only one assemblyman, Wilson Nyabong Ijang (Pelagus) participated in the debate of the Bill after its second reading. — DayakDaily