Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Singapore's Computer-Connected Future Worries Government Critics with Its Top-Down Control, the Government of This City-State Has Been Able to Push through a Rapid Technology Revolution

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Singapore's Computer-Connected Future Worries Government Critics with Its Top-Down Control, the Government of This City-State Has Been Able to Push through a Rapid Technology Revolution

Article excerpt

SINGAPORE'S government has ambitious plans to create a computer-linked, high-tech economy by the year 2015. But critics say the technological breakthroughs will come at the expense of individual liberties.

Under the government's information technology plan, IT2000, Singapore plans to develop a sophisticated computer network that will serve as an information highway.

The government strongly encourages high technology, says Wilson Tan, South Asia region general manager for Apple Computer. "It's an open economy but a closed society," Mr. Tan says.

Critics say the government's computerization plans ignore privacy rights guaranteed in the US and other industrialized nations.

"Keeping a citizen's computer files secret isn't even an issue here," says a computer professional. "It's part of the government's general authoritarianism."

The National Computer Board developed IT2000 in 1991 as part of a long-term effort to move Singapore toward high value-added manufacturing and service industries. Major elements of the plan include:

*Building a fiber-optic information highway to connect phones, computers, and faxes in virtually every home and office.

*Developing fast and efficient computer networks. TradeNet already saves shipping traders about $1 billion a year by reducing paperwork processing time.

*Enhancing technology education. Teachers will broadcast to remote learning locations and multimedia computers will teach foreign languages. In one existing pilot project, university students call up class schedules or library data from laptop computers equipped with wireless modems.

Chin Tahn Joo, senior director of technology for the National Computer Board (NCB), says IT2000 goals are realistic. The NCB has spent the past 10 years computerizing virtually all government agencies. That process, in turn, encouraged the private sector to do the same. The government has introduced computer networks for lawyers, shippers, real estate agents, and medical professionals. It even distributes a low-cost computer program for filing income taxes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.