The signs of the power and potency of the Internet-drive New Economy are compelling, e.g. New York’s NASDAQ index, loaded with technology and Internet stocks, soared 85% in 1999, fuelled by US$70 billion in new floats - a figure equal to Malaysia’s GDP; and if the share price of Yahoo!, the Net search-engine company climbs this year as it did last, the company will be as big as the Australian economy.
However, this paradigm shift to a K-economy cannot be negotiated successfully unless there is a change of mind-set in the government resulting in a K-Government and a K-Parliament.
The announcement by two Deputy Ministers, Datuk Chor Chee Heung (Home Ministry) and Datuk Tan Chai Ho (Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry) last Thursday wanting to censor the Harakah online by limiting its updating to twice a month is good evidence of the lack of K-Goverment to usher in the K-Economy.
In fact, the four-day Second Global Knowledge Conference starting in KL tomorrow would have been completely derailed and sidetracked if Chor and Tan’s statements on Thursday imposing censorship on the Harakah online had not been "killed" by the Prime Minister’s Department, as Malaysia would immediately in the dock of the IT world community for having broken its solemn pledge of "No Internet Censorship" among its 10 Bill of Guarantees as part of the promotion of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as an Asian Silicon Valley.
The subsequent pledge by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi that the government would not censor the Internet had not completely repaired the damage which had been done by Chor and Tan.
Malaysia must work to establish a K-Government and K-Parliament if we are to succeed in ushering in the K-economy as well as make the MSC one of the premier IT hubs of the world.
A K-Government and K-Parliament would relax the repressive laws which inhibit free flow of information in the country and will not resort to various draconian laws like the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Official Secrets Act, as happened after the recent general election, to arrest and prosecute Opposition leaders and to impose a clampdown on various Opposition publications.
This is why the Government should review and reconsider the decisions it has taken of late, with the view to restore Harakah’s previous printing permit and withdraw all charges levelled against Opposition leaders like Karpal Singh, Marina Yusuf, Mohd Ezam and Zulkifly Sulong.
To restore world IT confidence in the ten Bills of Guarantee and the government’s commitment on "no internet censorship" and the creation of a K-Government and K-Parliament, the government should introduce a bill in Parliament to amend the Malaysian Constitution to entrench the guarantee of "No Internet censorship" to ensure that this commitment to the world IT community could not be undermined by any whim or fancy of any political leader.