Information Department moves towards digital transformation to remain relevant

PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The Information Department, despite being more than a century old, remains relevant as a medium to deliver authentic and up-to-date information on government policies and initiatives to the public.

From using wayang pacak, or open-air cinema, as a medium to convey information, the Info Dept was now moving towards digital transformation to keep pace with changing times.

Info Dept director-general Datuk Mohd Sukari Ab Hamid said in this borderless world where information was instantly available at one’s fingertips, the department’s direct involvement with the community continued to be its core strength.

"The Info Dept’s involvement with the community at the district level is an advantage as we can reach out to the grassroots or target groups.

"However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the method of delivering information has changed from face-to-face interactions to digital communication or through various social media platforms," he told Bernama in conjunction with Info Dept's 111th anniversary.

Mohd Sukari said in the current digital era, face-to-face interactions could still be a more effective means of communication because not all people had access to electronic devices and the internet.

"Having access to accurate information is important for the community, therefore the communication machinery must continue to play a role in channelling such information so that they are clear with whatever policies outlined by the government," he said.

Citing the Malaysian Family concept and the recently tabled 12th Malaysian Plan as examples, Mohd Sukari said Info Dept’s role was to explain and make announcements on the government’s aspirations so that the people have a clear understanding of them.

He said, Info Dept always encouraged its 2,535 officers and staff to always empower and equip themselves with the rapidly emerging technologies, in addition to being more sensitive to the current situation faced by the people so that the information conveyed was not misinterpreted.

"The information technology (IT) literate society will increase in line with the high internet usage in the future. If the Info Dept does not embark on the digital transformation journey, the department will be left behind," he said.

Mohd Sukari said Info Dept also played an important role in ensuring that the people’s voices were heard and given due attention by relevant parties.

Meanwhile, Info Dept Media and Corporate Communications Division director Dr Amerjit Singh S. Bhag Singh said the department had completed the draft of its Transformation Plan 2021-2023 in an effort to ensure it remained relevant in the digital communication era.

He said the plan was expected to be presented to the top management of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry soon.

Through the plan, a number of strategic measures have been identified for us to remain relevant and committed to disseminating information on government policies and programmes to the public, he added.

Amerjit said among the measures was to create digital talent or information officers who were not only good at speaking and writing, but also technology-savvy.

"We also want our officers to be proficient in English, Mandarin and Tamil as well as be competent," he said.

Amerjit said Info Dept’s role as an agency that was responsible for disseminating information about the government programmes and policies had never changed despite the rapid development in communication technology.

"Wayang pacak used to be an important medium to disseminate information to the public because not many people had televisions at that time.

"If we use wayang pacak now, we might not get good response from the public. Therefore, we use various digital communication channels including through social media platforms to disseminate information to the public and keep them updated," he said.

He said in order to keep abreast with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Info Dept officers must equip themselves with information and communication technology skills.

"Today’s society has shifted towards using digital communication or social media, so we at the Info Dept must keep pace with the changing needs of the public by disseminating information through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Info DeptTV and Tik Tok," he said.

Amerjit also said that the Info Dept would also optimise the potential and functions of Info On Wheels (IoW) programne to disseminate information to the local community.

He said the three iM@Info Dept vehicles which served as a mobile media centre, mobile news centre and mobile publication distribution centre, would also be fully mobilised to facilitate information delivery to the people.

Amerjit said rural communities, including those living in the remote interior of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Asli community would not be sidelined as the Info Dept would continue to implement various programmes for them including Sembang Warung.

"Some people, especially those in rural and remote areas prefer information to be conveyed through traditional methods.

"Through the Sembang Warung programme, we can get immediate feedback and give explanation about any issue to the target group," he added. - Bernama

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