Parliament homepage living example why Malaysia cannot successfuly transform into a  K-economy without K-government and K-Parliament

Speech - at the Malacca DAP State Dinner held at Pay Fong Chinese Independent Secondary School Hall
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Malacca, Saturday): The 2001 Budget presented by the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin in Parliament yesterday has been hailed as a budget to usher Malaysia into the K-economy with the central role to be played by the information and communications technologies (ICT).

What is sad is that the Finance Minister has missed the truism that there can be no successful K-economy if there is no K-governance.

The Parliament homepage is the living advertisement why Malaysia cannot successfully transform into a K-economy without K-government and K-Parliament, involving a full change of IT-mindset and culture at all levels of society, from the highest leadership down to the men and women in the street.

From 1996 top 1999, I had repeatedly spoken in Parliament about the important role that must be played by Parliament if Malaysia is to take the quantum leap into an information society, but all the suggestions and criticisms had fallen on deaf ears and the Parliamentary homepage today remains as "dinosaurian" as ever, despite the vast sums of money being  spent every year for the vote on the parliamentary homepage. I just wonder where all these monies have really gone to and a full public audit and accountability may throw light on why all the talk about ICT and even money spent on ICT are  not necessarily conducive to the establishment of an K-economy.

In actual fact, Daim’s budget speech yesterday was  another classic example  that all talk and money spent on ICT need not necessarily produce a K-economy.  Daim opened his two-hour budget presentation on "Achievements in the Pre-Crisis Period Towards Vision 2020",  referring in particular to various megaprojects like the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) "to rival any airport in the world".

It is now clear that the KLIA has no "rival" in the world -  as the most expensive and least used international airport in the world.

Coincidentally, the latest issue of Asiaweek came online yesterday with an article on the KLIA, under the heading "Malaysia's (Not So) International Airport - This is One White Elephant That May Not Fly" by  Assif Shameen, which is the worst possible advertisement not only for the KLIA but also for Malaysia’s ICT ambitions.

Referring to "Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed's strategy in the pre-Crisis era" where "Tens of billions of dollars were spent on prestige projects, from highways to skyscrapers to gleaming shopping malls", Assif wrote:

The Asiaweek article said: Daim should be canvassing the issues raised by Assif Shameen in Asiaweek yesterday in his 2001 budget speech, about how to dig KLIA from the hole of being the 63rd biggest airport in the world but the world’s most expensive "spoke" airport instead of bragging about KLIA wanting to "rival any airport in the world". Nobody wants to "rival" with KLIA to become the world’s most expensive "spoke" airport.

Daim’s 2001 budget speech and the Asiaweek article  give a sobering reminder to Malaysians about the difference between budget speech rhetoric and reality - which extends not only to the KLIA but to the government’s K-economy plan as well.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman