Last week, Telekom Malaysia Bhd announced its most impressive financial earnings in its corporate history in chalking up RM2.38 billion in profit before tax for financial year ending Dec 31 last year. This represented a 23.5 per cent increase over 1995’s RM1.93 billion, which was itself 15.4 per cent higher than the RM1.68 billion in 1994.
Profit after tax for last year also rose by 20.3 per cent to RM1.893 billion over RM1.573 billion registered in 1995.
These figures confirm that Telekom Malaysia had no justification to increase its phone rate charges from June last year, for the colossal profits had been made by a privatised entity at the expense of a captive public clientele.
With such colossal profits, the Government should step in to protect the public interest and ask Telekom Malaysia to review its telephone rates so that the Telekom telephone users could benefit with reduced tariffs.
Alternatively, Telekom Malaysia should be asked to discharge its social responsibility in the field of information and communications technology by building a Superhighway for universities and schools and to co-operate with the Ministry of Education to put all schools on-line by the year 2,000.
The past year had seen national cyberschool initiatives mushrooming in countries which want to be in the forefront of the information technology revolution in the new millennium.
The United States has launched the Internet II initiative which aims to offer the US research and educational communities advanced Internet connectivity. It has also introduced the concept of an education rate or “E-rate” providing Internet connection for all US schools and libraries by the year 2000 at rates 20 per cent to 90 per cent lower than the standard telephone charges.
In Japan, the Ministry of Education unveiled plans to install 900,000 network-equipped computers in schools by the year 2000 and with the telecoms operator Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) will jointly connect 1,000 schools to the Internet over the next two years.
In Australia, the government announced plans to equip every school with PCs and achieve a rate of one PC for every secondary student by the year 2,000.
In Europe, Denmark plans to put all schools on-line by the year 2,000 while in the United Kingdom, plans are well advanced in public-private joint initiatives for its “Superhighway in Education” plan.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd should do even more than telecom companies in other countries to contribute to the IT developments for schools and universities in Malaysia, by devoting a portion of its colossal profits in a co-operative initiative with the government to build a Superhighway for Education with more advanced backbone networks capable of supporting high-speed communications services and to put all schools on-line by the year 2,000.