(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): This book is a small contribution towards raising greater IT-consciousness and awareness among Malaysians which is a prerequisite to the success of the national plan to make the quantum leap into the Digital Era.
In the new millennium, Information Technology (IT) and a Knowledge Society will be the critical determinants as to whether the Vision 2020 objective of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation is a success or failure.
The Government has realised that under the current industrial approach, Malaysia would not be able to achieve fully-developed nation status by 2020 and that an Information Age approach, leapfrogging Malaysia from an industrial society into an information society, is the only way to achieve fully-developed nation status as envisaged in Vision 2020 - and maybe even before the year 2020.
There had been media reports about Malaysia trying to contest to become the IT hub of the world - with Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) taking on Singapore’s IT2000 Plan to wire up the whole island and even the Silicon Valley. There is nothing wrong in Malaysia aiming to be among the premier IT hubs in the world. If a people and a nation is to attain greatness, it must dare to dream big dreams. It must be be prepared to aim for the impossible, as reaching for the sky but it must never lose sight of reality, as ensuring that our foot refamin firmly planted on the ground.
If Malaysia aims to become an information superpower or power in the next decade, we must reach a national consensus as to how we can create the conditions which have made Silicon Valley such a great success in Information Technology, namely its awesome creative brainpower, the state-of-the-art research capability and its unrivalled high-tech know-how.
The Multimedia Super Corridor cannot be a success unless we can duplicate these conditions in Malaysia.
In the past two years, one of my concerns has been how we can assure our future as a nation, our competitiveness, prosperity and place in the world which is making the transition to the Digital Era and this is why I had repeatedly called for a nation-wide "IT For All" campaign to promote IT-literacy with the twin objective to ensure:
This is important as in the next decade, there will be a new underclass of the handicapped and the disadvantaged - those who are computer illiterate!
If we are serious in wanting to make a success of MSC and the transition of Malaysia into the Information Society, we must have a National IT Agenda and Plan which gives top priority to the transformation of the Malaysian people into a computer-literate and computer-fluent population where, for instance,
But we have to start with very simple things as resolving that from the year 2000, no Malaysian child will be allowed to leave school without full computer literacy, which means all the 1,273 schools presently without electricity supply or limited supply would be provided with power and connected to the Information Superhighway by the year 2,000.
In London at the start of his two-month overseas leave, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad delivered a keynote address at the Imperial College where he said:
"Malaysia offers the Multimedia Supercorridor as a huge test-bed for trying out not just the technology but also the way of life in the age of instant and unlimited information."
I support the concept of the MSC as a huge test-bed for trying out the new technology and culture of the digital era, but this brave idea can only succeed if it involves the full involvement of all Malaysians in making this transition into the Information Age.
At present, very few Malaysians know what the MSC has really to offer, not only to the world, but to themselves; and there are many Malaysians in all walks of life who belabour under the fallacy that IT is MSC and MSC is IT.
An intensive nation-wide educational campaign to promote a high-level of IT consciousness, literacy and fluency among Malaysians is urgently needed if we are to create the preconditions where the MSC could be a "huge test-bed for trying out not just the technology but also the way of life in the age of instant and unlimited information."
It is hoped that this book would make a little contribution in this nation-wide IT educational campaign.