It is a national scandal and disgrace when the country is trying to make the quantum leap into the Digital Era that there are still 1,273 schools in the country without electricity supply.
In the past two years, I had placed top on my parliamentary agenda the monitoring of the governmentís information technology plans to ensure that Malaysiaís leapfrogging into the information society would avoid the pitfall of creating a new injustice in Malaysia with the emergence of a new divide between the Information-rich and the Information-poor.
This is why the government should should launch an emergency Schools Electrification Programme 2000 to provide steady power supply to all the 1,273 schools currently without electricity or with only limited power supply, as at present, there are 883 schools totally without power supply and 440 schools with limited power supply.
During the last parliamentary meeting, I had called on MPs from all political parties, whether Barisan Nasional, DAP, PAS or PBS, to take a clear-cut common stand on this issue in demanding that all schools in Malaysia, whether in the most remote areas in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, should be supplied with power by the year 2,000 and to demand that the Education Ministry should give a progress report at every Parliamentary meeting as to the number of schools without power supply which had been provided with electricity and the number of schools with limited power which had been given steady and continuous electricity.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has become the nationís No. 1 Salesman in the world to attract international multimedia/IT companies to invest in the Multimedia Super Corridor to realise Malaysiaís vision of leapfrogging into the Information Age in the new millennium.
Such an ambitious plan cannot succeed if our basic infrastructure is lacking, as when we cannot provide all schools with electricity supply and connect them to the Information Superhighway by the year 2,000.
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.
The recent all-out war campaign against corruption launched by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim with the approval of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, will decide the success or failure of the Multimedia Super Corridor and the countryís IT national strategy.
In a survey conducted by the government on the principal barriers and concerns of international IT/multimedia companies when deciding whether to invest in the MSC, corruption was rated as one of the top five barriers.
If Malaysia wants the MSC and our IT national strategy to succeed, we must convince the world that we have the will to eradicate corruption. This is why we must ensure that the all-out war against corruption has only one outcome - success - and not falter and fail as many people both inside and outside the country are expecting and waiting.
Last year, Malaysia was ranked No. 26 out of 54 countries in the Transparency Internationalís 1996 international corruption perception index.
Malaysia should aim to be among the top ten cleanest countries in the world, which should be duly reflected in the Transparency International international corruption perception index by the year 2,000 and in the next three rankings for 1997, 1998 and 1999, Malaysia should aim for continuous improvement in our international ranking as a clean society with an honest government.