Malaysian Cabinet probably the least IT-literate among countries publicly committed to be in the forefront of IT revolution

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Yesterday at 12.36 p.m., I sent emails to 24 Cabinet Ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister - minus the five Ministers whose emails are not available on the Prime Minister’s website - asking them to ensure that the Eighth Malaysia Plan and the Third  Outline Perspective Plan 2001-2010 do not start with the new injustice of depriving 7,168 Chinese and Indian students the opportunities of admission to public universities.

In my email, I urged them, “in the name of equity, justice, national unity and national development” to implement the university intake quota system in a flexible and “smart” manner and  to release the 7,168 public university  places already approved and budgetted by Parliament in the 2001 budget  to non-bumiputera students, including the over 500 SPM top-scorers, as there are no more bumiputera students to meet the minimum university standards.

I  stressed that the Cabinet is not being asked to  question the policy of the quota system, but its flexible and smart implementation.

With such a decision, the Cabinet will not be denying a single bumiputera student of the opportunity of admission to the public universities - but will be able to  ensure that 7,168 eligible non-bumiputera students are not deprived the opportunities of higher education because of an inflexible and unreasonable implementation of the quota system.

Some 24  hours have passed, and apart from the two emails which bounced back, I have not received any response to anyone of the emails which I have sent out to the Cabinet Ministers.

I must wonder whether anyone of them have personally received, let alone read, my email.

It is one thing for a Minister to have an email address, but this does not mean that he or she is actively using it.  How many Ministers have an official email address just for “show” but is never used and do not even read the emails downloaded by a staff member and  how many Ministers read and answer their own emails?

From the total lack of response to the emails which I sent out to the Cabinet Ministers yesterday, I cannot but conclude that the Malaysian Cabinet must be one of the least IT-literate in the world among nations who publicly declared ambitions to be in the forefront of the Information Technology (IT) revolution.

Nobody expect the Cabinet Ministers to be checking their emails every other minute, but it would be most extraordinary for a regular email user not to check the mail box a few times a day - and for a whole day to pass without a single email response from the entire 29-member Cabinet paints a very unflattering picture of the Cabinet’s IT proficiency and commitment!

It would be most tragic if  the hopes of the 33,000 STPM holders and 135,844 SPM students to get into the public universities if the 7,168 unfilled university places are  released to Chinese and Indian students are now crushed  because Cabinet Ministers only have email addresses but do not use them!

It would be useful for a survey to be conducted to ascertain how many Ministers, and who are they, who actually use their email, and their electronic addresses are not just put up on the Internet to give a false impression of their IT-savviness.

I am sending an email to the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad asking for an urgent meeting with him on Tuesday to discuss the grave problem of the 500 SPM top scorers denied university admissions and the freezing of 7,168 university places although Parliament had budgetted for them in 2001 Budget because there are not enough bumiputera students to be admitted, and to ask that the 7,168 places should be released to eligible Chinese and Indian students.

I hope Musa is one of the Ministers who uses the Ministerial email and can give a positive response.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman