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‘E-premier’ eyes digital future

Prime Minister and self-proclaimed “e-premier” Hun Sen shamed technological troglodytes throughout the government yesterday for their laggardly embrace of new communication tools, which he maintained would quicken the government’s work if properly applied.

Declaring a technologically fostered “e-government”, the premier chided digitally illiterate civil servants, urging them to at least master basic smartphone functions like SMS, email and Viber, noting that he himself had bestowed his blessing on the recent agreement on the Kingdom’s new election law by firing off a quick chat via messaging system WhatsApp.

“I am not talking about the graduated students, because they are good at IT, but I appeal to the civil servants and armed forces, especially senior government officials, to learn information technology. Because we have declared e-government, but lack the human resources to fit into e-government, which is a problem,” he said.

Hun Sen went on to say that, for starters, at least lawmakers, secretaries and under-secretaries of state, provincial governors and their deputies should have a basic mastery of smartphones, while reminding them that, despite the better communications afforded by the devices, “I am not open for access to everyone”.

Quicker communications could have uses up to and including military commanders sending photos via WhatsApp of the military situation in a hypothetical border war. Those who are still unable to master basic online skills, he said, “are poorer than the children who take care of the buffaloes in the field – those children can post to Facebook”.

Hun Sen went on to note that while computers had been set up for every lawmaker and cabinet member, he was unsure how many knew how to actually turn them on. But, he continued, computers were less important to understand than smartphones.

“This is the e-government, but it is impossible if you don’t know about this technology. Don’t be ashamed, go learn.”

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