Digital democracy in Malaysia : towards enhancing citizen participation

Majid, Nor Mazny Abdul (2010) Digital democracy in Malaysia : towards enhancing citizen participation. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis investigates the relevance of digital democracy in enhancing citizen participation in policy making within the Malaysian civil service. A qualitative research method is applied through an empirical, in-depth interview based, data collection exercise of a sample of civil servants and commentators on government and technology in Malaysia. It assesses, from a broad perspective, the possible contribution of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in strengthening citizen participation in the democratic processes of government. In these contexts it offers a perspective on how the legal, political and social interpenetrates. The literature reviewed covers: the concept of democracy and assumed influences of ICT on democratic processes; Malaysia’s history with a focus on nation building, the civil service and also its government’s ICT agendas; and, laws structuring citizen participation in government in Malaysia, framed within autopoietic theory. This, as a metaphor, offers a flexible perspective of law’s affect on its environment and vice versa, and, further illustrates and emphasises the importance of context. The findings suggest that civil servants agree that there are numerous opportunities for policy making to benefit from digital democracy practices based on ICT. However there is a gap between their appreciation of this potential as a concept and their confidence in its implementation in policy making within the civil service. Civil servants are not ready to hand over the role of defining the process and content of policy making to citizens. Civil servants are generally uncertain about the actual value or weight they are willing to afford to inputs from digital democracy practices and what its influence on policy making will be. The thesis is significant because it describes, from viewpoints within the civil service, the role of ICT in enhancing citizen participation in democratic processes within a context of issues, benefits, enablers and barriers to citizen participation in policy making. This description is placed against a background of the history, culture and law which situates Malaysian civil servants’ understanding of the concept of digital democracy and how they frame its relevance to policy making. The research informs the formulation of policy for the use of digital democracy practices in Malaysia. More generally, it contributes to the debate over the factors, including historic democratic practices, which affect the capacity for ICT to enhance participatory democracy. Through this focus on a South East Asian state and its civil service, the study explores new dimensions and offers a significant contribution to the emerging field of digital democracy.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1801 Law
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Law
Keywords public service, public servants, public sector, IT, Malaysia, Internet, Web, democracy, policy-making, National Information Technology Agenda, NITA, National Communications Policy, NTP, UTOPOIETIC, decision-making
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