Call on the Government to draw up a special 14-month action plan to achieve the target of 500,000 Internet subscribers by end of next year
Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Last Saturday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed launched the National IT Awareness Campaign and called on all Malaysians not to be mere spectators but to play a full part of the information revolution.

He said for the country to develop an army of knowledge workers, Malaysians must start immediately. "The starting point is not just our children, but ourselves. How do we start? By not being afraid of technology, by mastering it, and by applying it in our work".

One index of the countryís readiness to be full part of the information revolution is the Internet take-up rate of the population. As of Oct. 1, 1997, Malaysia has 167,447 Internet subscribers, made up of 88,363 Jaring subscribers and 79,084 TmNet subscribers, which is a far cry from the Mimos estimate in April 1996 that Malaysia would have 150,000 Internet subscribers by the end of last year and 500,000 Internet subscribers by the end of this year.

Mimos made this forecast in April last year based on the exponential growth of 22 per cent per month in the increase of Jaring subscribers, but this has now dropped to six per cent per month.

The appointment of TmNet last year as a second Internet Service Provider had not been able to keep up the momentum of the Internet take-up rate largely because of Telekomís introduction of the time-based telephone billing system for Internet users.

The Cabinet should seriously consider the adverse effect of Telekomís time-based telephone billing system for Internet users in the IT plan to leapfrog Malaysia into an information society.

If the government is serious in wanting to promote IT-awareness, IT-literacy and IT-usage among the Malaysian people, then the government should draw up a special 14-month action plan to achieve the target of 500,000 Internet subscribers by the end of next year.

A full national campaign should be mounted to achieve this target, with the full support of national, state and local committees involving all political parties, civic organisations and all levels of society.

As of 1st October 1997, the state breakdown for the 88,363 Jaring subscribers are as follows:

Selangor

22,937

Kuala Lumpur

22,757

Penang

12,175

Johore

6,954

Sarawak

6,343

Perak

5,029

Kedah

3,685

Melaka

2,283

Negri Sembilan

1,710

Pahang

1,264

Terengganu

651

Kelantan

339

Perlis

292

It is most unfortunate that TmNet has not furnished Parliament with a state-by-state breakdown of its 79,084 subscribers as on 1.10.1997, and Parliament was told that TmNet was preparing this data. I cannot understand why TmNet is not in a position to give a state-by-state breakdown of its Internet subscribers, which reflects poorly either on its professional competence or its commitment to public interest.

Malaysians are entitled to know the state-by-state breakdown of Internet subscribers as it should be an important agenda of every state government to encourage a high Internet take-up rate in each state.

All that TmNet can furnish to Parliament are its monthly Internet subscriber total since its introduction in November 1996, which are as follows:

November 96

6,972

December 96

14,901

January 97

22,792

February 97

27,630

March 97

33,069

April 97

39,050

May 97

45,395

5 June 97

47,391

July 97

56,400

August 97

68,476

September 22, 1997

79,084

(14/10/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong