By now you must have read the report and the write-up in the media. And the review by KPMG was also quite startling, not that it was correct nor accurate by any measure. Highlights;
1. Demotion of Viv Balakrishnan - replaced by Teo Chee Hean. For many both in the Civil Service and the various Govt IT advisory bodies with private sector big hitters as board members this was not a surprise. His media coverage where he talked about augmented reality and gaming did give away that he was lost after 3 years leading this initiative. For him and the PM, IT, gadgets etc have been a life long hobby and probably thought they understood it more than anyone else. Anyway it now has a inter-ministry panel.
2. If you ask KPMG or any of the big fours, they will take up any assignment despite not knowing nothing about it. But you cannot fault them on presentation materials and the accompanying visualisation sans the actual substance.
3. Payment and interoperability - truly a laugh a minute or should it be paragraph or not minute. 95% of e-payments are highly in integrated and interoperable. Visa/MCI/ Amex and even Union Pay have switches that handle each other's product offerings from ATMs to merchant terminals. Merchants do not need multiple terminals. For high value transfers, swift brings al the banks together around the World and Banks brand differently for obvious reasons. The confusion is probably from attempts by likes of Paypal, Google, Amazon, bitcoin etc trying their luck.
A simple case of M-pesa which set the tone for Africa and Micro-financing in Bangladesh are excellent examples of innovation that benefited societies immensely. They were game-changes. These sort of things are not mentioned in the report.
Citing challenges with Hawkers and Hawker Center as an example of interoperability is a joke. No hawker wants to have his takings being logged. Even if the govt offers them 10 to 20% of the takings as an added incentive to take electronic and cashless payments they are not interested. Is there even a dying need for hawkers to be roped into cashless payments. Already people are giving up this vocation.
4. Surprised by the number of porpumpars that have given their views. Apparently Singapore according to the porlumpars is that we are paying the price for being pioneers and first movers as a smart nation nearly 30 years ago and there are too many legacy systems to overcome. So we are paying the price for having the vision and execution skills 30 years ago. In essence we were so successful and therefore we failed.
Issues with this government
1. Trying to compete with the private sector both in technical and business innovation have never been the norm anywhere in the World. Leave this to the experts and the visionaries. Looks at the FAS and the sports sector. The moment MPs took over, we went downhill very quickly. Which idiot thought that MPs are natural sports leaders.
2. Keeping politicians who have repeatedly failed to deliver or have underperformed is an issue. Moving them from one ministry to another is not helping the political agenda nor the country's agenda.
3. The world does not revolve around Hawker centres and cashless payment. We have continued to lose our status as a shipping and aviation hub leader over the last 20 years. Trying to focus on a few key big things rather then worry about Ah Kow's Kway Teow's business and his use of cash. Trying to focus on clawing back businesses that we have lost.
4. How does one even contemplate being a smart nation when an entire section of a Housing estate can loose access to the internet and fixed line phones for 30 hours. Despite all the planning, contractors cutting cable is as regular as the sun rises.