(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysia has been cited in an international survey on globalisation as providing "an example of the deep problems a developing country can encounter if it attempts, without sound economic thought, to bridge the 'digital abyss'".
The survey, jointly conducted by a leading American political journal, Foreign Policy magazine and the A.T. Kearney consulting company to produce the Globalisation Index, said:
"Malaysia has spent more than US$3.6 billion (S$6.2 billion) on its Multimedia Super Corridor to attract investment and high-technology capabilities.
"At the same time, over 70 per cent of the nation's primary schools lack computer facilities, and almost 10 per cent lack proper connections for water and electricity. The result is an impressive infrastructure not sufficiently supported by human capital."
The Globalisation Index survey rated 50 developed countries and emerging markets for the extent of their openness and integration with other countries.
Singapore was named the world’s most globalised country, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Ireland, United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, Denmark, the United States, Italy, Germany and Portugal.
The Globalisation Index, which is to be updated annually, claims to be a "powerful tool for understanding the forces shaping today's world" and for distinguishing the realities of globalisation from misconceptions based on anecdotal evidence.
The study broke down the components of globalisation, measuring the cross-border flows of goods and services, capital, people and communication. It compared data on things like international travel, international phone calls and the movement of money.
For Malaysia, the Globalisation Index survey should be a wake-up
call to urgently rectify two deep flaws in the National IT Policy -
Four years ago, during the Parliamentary debate on the Royal Address, I had warned of the danger of creating a new digital divide in Malaysia with an oasis of information-prosperity in the MSC against a national backdrop of comparative information backwardness or even poverty.
But the country faces an even more rudimentary problem on IT development, as Malaysia has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world which has not yet formulated a National IT Plan after promising it for five years - when other countries have gone through several National IT Action Plans in their transition to information and innovative societies.
This raises the fundamental question about the government’s seriousness and commitment to transform Malaysia into a knowledge society and in particular on specific IT agendas with regard to e-government and e-commerce.
As this is the season for Cabinet reshuffle, the time has come for the appointment of a e-Minister to take overall responsibility for the Government’s Information Age agenda, ensure that the National IT Action Plan is in place in the Eighth Malaysia Plan and be the driving force for transforming Malaysia into an knowledge and innovative society.