Penang should live up to its motto of "Penang Leads" by being the first in the country to introduce electronic government on the occasion of the Yang di Pertua’s birthday on 12th July

Speech - "IT for All" Seminar
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Sunday): All Malaysians must be fully aware of the critical importance of IT in enhancing both our competitive advantages in the global marketplace as well as our quality of life.

This is why it is a matter of great disappointment that the Penang State Government’s PenangNet to transform Penang into a global trade centre and create a boom for the growth of hi-tech industries in Penang had not been able to be activated in January as originally planned, but has suffered a six-month setback. There is no full explanation as the cause for this six-month delay for the PenangNet to be "switched on" or whether there is any assurance that there would not be further hitches to cause some more delay in the operational launch of the PenangNet.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in his on-line chat with 13,000 Malaysians in 28 locations last Tuesday had given the "green light" for states to lead in IT applications, although he asked the state governments to let the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) to be developed first before they have their own mini-MSCs.

He said: "We find that the demand for some of the Government’s services is so urgent that we cannot wait until a system is perfected before using it.

"If we want to wait for the most sophisticated technology, we will have to wait until the end of the world.

"If the state governments think they can implement (a particular IT project), then go ahead."

The Penang State Government should take up this challenge by the Prime Minister, hold an emergency State EXCO and State Assembly meeting and resolve to be the first in the country to introduce electronic government, both at the state and municipal government levels.

This will be in the great tradition of living up to the Penang motto of "Penang leads" and a good date to introduce electronic government not only in Penang but in the country is on the occasion of the birthday of the Penang Yang di Pertua this year on July 12.

The problem of whether Penang can lead Malaysia in being the first in introducing electronic government is not one of lack of technology, but of the political will and vision to make full use of its existing IT infrastructure and capabilities to provide efficient, effective and responsive services and information to the people.

Penang should also aim to be the first state in the country to achieve the target of "one family, one computer".

By being the first to go electronic, Penang will also be able to popularise computer and IT-literacy and usage which could consolidate Penang’s advantageous IT position and even help ease one of the worst traffic congestions in the region by making it possible for the people to obtain government services and information without having to go to Georgetown.

Penang should also be the first government to post all its Bills on the Internet. This is one example where governments have acquired the latest IT capabilities but which they could put to good use for the benefit of the people because they are still mired in a pre-IT mindset and mentality.

This is why the DAP has performed the national service of posting five bills on the Internet - the four cyberbills of Computer Crimes, Digital Signature, Telemedicine and Copyright (Amendment) as well as the Rent Control (Repeal) Bill.

There is no reason therefore why the Penang State Government cannot lead in posting all bills and government information and reports on the Internet to show the way for the rest of Malaysia.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong