(Dewan Rakyat, Friday): Let me extend a warm welcome to the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, all speakers, panellists and participants.
History is made today with the holding of Parliamentary Cyberbill Forum to bring together the two branches of government, namely the Legislature and the Executive, as well as members of political parties - from both the ruling parties and the opposition - industry representatives, interested practitioners whether technological, legal, medical or purely as consumer, to take part in the formulation of the first batch of cyberlaws in Malaysia.
Although cyberspace is borderless, it cannot be a law-free zone. One of our greatest challenges which will decide whether Malaysia can successfully make the transition into the Information Society and take its rightful place among the front rank of nations in the 21st century is whether we can devise new legal structures and concepts that will afford due recognition to the rapid changes and the new realities that would be wrought by Information Technology to lay the basis for a civil and knowledge-based society.
Information Age must mean a more open, democratic and participatory form of governance. Let us set a historic precedent of opening up channels and creating avenues for a more robust and vigorous participatory democracy in Malaysia - where there would be meaningful public input and consultation before laws are passed by both Houses of Parliament, not just for the cyberbills, but for all bills in future.
The multi-party Parliamentary IT Committee, which is organising this Forum as its first function, has been formed because IT is a national issue which transcends political party differences, and all MPs, regardless of party, should co-operate to formulate the best cyberlaws - not just for software companies and foreign investors, but most important of all, for Malaysians and future generations.
It is in this spirit to formulate the best cyberlaws in the world that we must be open to suggestions, ideas and criticisms and why I will be circulating proposals for six amendments to the Computer Crimes Bill so that they could be discussed at this Forum.
I do not hold that these six proposals are the best ideas in the world and I am prepared to modify or withdraw them in the face of good and valid grounds, just as the government should be prepared to modify the cyberbills and accept amendments during the Committee Stage of the bills in Parliament with the common purpose of enacting the best cyberlaws in the world.
Let me conclude by expressing the hope that this first Parliamentary Forum on Cyberbills could make a contribution to the popularisation of IT-consciousness and IT-usage among Malaysians. In the new millennium, the computer-illiterate would be the new underclass of the handicapped and disadvantaged. Let us ensure that this new underclass of the handicapped and disadvantaged is kept to a minimum in Malaysia.