(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The DAP “IT For All Conference” to be held at the Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday is to open a window on the future as to how InformationTechnology would influence the quality of everyday life of all Malaysians.
If Malaysia is to become an information society which is capable of making full use of the convergence of information and communications technologies to maximise both international competitiveness and social equity in the country, an important prerequisite is a IT-literate population.
The government’s ambitious Multimedia Super Corridor project to make Malaysia a regional IT hub would not succeed if this prerequisite is not met.
At present, Malaysia lags behind many other countries in IT-literacy. For instance, according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 1996, Malaysia is ranked number 29 for “computer power per capita” - i.e. MIPS (millions of instructions per second) per 1,000 people out of 46 countries, while the top twelve nations are the USA, Norway, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Singapore and Switzerland.
The Global Competitiveness Report 1996 ranked Malaysia as number 26 for “computers per capita”, while the top 12 nations are the USA, Australia, Canada, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Germany.
There is an urgent need to popularise IT-literacy in Malaysia to educate Malaysians that IT and computers are nothing to be afraid of and to overcome the fear of the unknown and suspicion of the new.
A national campaign should be organised to promote a national IT awareness and to remove the social, educational and psychological barriers to people who would like to know more about using information and communication technologies.
There is also the need for Malaysians in all sectors to be conversant about IT developments in the rest of the world if Malaysia is to be a leader in the information era by becoming a regional IT hub.
It is most surprising that during the public outcry over the derogatory remark by Singapore Senior Minister, Lee Kuan Yew about Johore’s notoriety for “shootings, muggings and car-jackings”, a reporter had asked the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad whether Singapore’s ONE, described as “a structure similar to the MSC”, had been set up by the republic as part of the competitive rivalry between the two countries.
Such a question should not have been posed, for Mahathir announced the government’s RM5 billion plan to take a quantum leap into the future under the MSC in August 1996 while Singapore’s ONE - One Network for Everyone - was announced by Singapore Minister for Communications, Mr. Mah Bow Tan in June 1996 as part of the Singapore Government’s IT2000 vision.
Furthermore, there is nothing similar in the structure of the MSC with ONE, as the former commits the Malaysian Government to a Bill of 10 Guarantees, which includes allowing unrestricted employment of local and foreign knowledge workers; the freedom to source capital globally for MSC infrastructure and the right to borrow funds globally; become a regional leader in intellectual property protection and cyberlaws and ensuring no Internet censorship
The first phase of the ONE project was planned to run from 1996 to 2001 and to result in the deployment of a core multimedia broadband network with a number of services and applications focussing on government, education, home and business.
By 1997, the following services will be piloted on Singapore ONE:
Although the MSC would be seen by some in Singapore as a challenge to the premier IT position enjoyed by Singapore, it is most inappropriate for anyone to suggest that ONE is a copy of MSC.