(PetalingJaya, Tuesday): DAP welcomes the belated government decision to make public the K-economy master plan although it is one year or five Internet years behind time.
Last Thursday, I had called on the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie to release the K-economy master plan completed a year ago to the Malaysian public and the world to ensure that the five-day 2002 Malaysian Information and Communications Technology Week (MICT 2002) and the sixth annual meeting of the International Advisory Panel for the Multimedia Super Corridor to be chaired by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad next month would be meaningful events and not just be an extravaganza or an embarrassment.
At least Leo Moggie is sufficiently embarrassed by the one-year or five-Internet-year delay in making public the K-economy master plan to take the unusual step of asking the deputy director-general of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS) Datuk Zainal Aznam Yusuf to make the announcement yesterday that the K-economy master plan would be unveiled next month.
Zainal said that the K-economy Master plan covering 2001-2010 would be launched by the Finance Minister in the first week of next month. Malaysia seems to be the only country in the world to be launching 10-year master plans one or two years after the starting date of the plan. The 10-year K-economy master plan 2001-2010 is being launched in September 2002, while the MCA had just organized the first public seminar ever held in the country on the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 in August 2002 – imparting the unmistakable impression that the Malaysian government and Ministers do not operate in “real time” of information and communications technology but the “bullock cart” time well before Independence in 1957.
When launching the K-economy Master Plan next month, Mahathir should explain why the government failed to keep the promise he made in February 2000 that the K-Economy Master Plan would be the "Strategic Initiative One" to reinvent Malaysian society to grasp the opportunities of the Information Age, that it would be "for the entire nation and for every citizen" and would not be drafted by the best brains behind closed doors because it must be relevant to Malaysians and become a personal master plan for all.
Mahathir had promised that the formulation of the K-economy Master Plan would "not be an elitist process but one involving everyone from the teacher to his pupil, to his fisherman father, to the mechanic, to the secretary, janitor and the chairman of the board" and that there would be a 18-month “process of national consultation, brainstorming, drafting and national mobilisation” for the K-economy Master Plan.
All these high-sounding rhetoric proved to be empty words as the promises have not been fulfilled and Malaysia has now the dubious distinction of being the first country in the world where its K-economy Master Plan was formulated completely without public participation and consultation and kept under wraps under the Official Secrets Act for the past one year.
The challenge facing Mahathir and the government is not to unveil the K-economy Master Plan after keeping it under lock and key for one year, but to carry out a total revamp of the mentality and mindset of the entire government and all policy makers and implementors to ensure that they come out of their pre-IT mentality and mindset, as regarding government information as government property and none of the people’s business when in an information society, government information should be accessible by the people because it belongs to the people, subject to exceptional reasons like national security and personal privacy.
It is precisely because of such antediluvian pre-IT mentality and mind-set in the top echelons of government that the Malaysian K-economy Master Plan had been kept under lock and key for one year after its completion – despite repeated DAP demands for public accessibility in the whole process of its formulation in the past three years.
Zainal said yesterday that the Government would consider publishing the plan. This is another example of the deep groove of pre-IT mentality and mindset in the government – as the question of the government publishing the plan should not arise at all, when all such documents should be made public as a matter of course. In fact, the K-economy Master Plan should be immediately posted on the Internet for easy access and study by Malaysians and the world without having to wait for its official launch next month.