By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, October 3 , 1995;
Sarawak State Government, which has an annual budget of RM 2.2 billion, should set an example for all other states by allocating RM10 million to educate the people about how to use the Internet and to inform them about its potential for social and economic development
Last, weekend, when opening Sarawak’s first exposition of Information Technology (IT) – ITXPO ‘95 – in Kuching, the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud announced that the Sarawak State Government expects to spend RM150 million in IT over the next, five years under the Seventh Malaysia Plan.
Under the Sixth Malaysia Plan, the Sarawak State Government invested about RM50 million on various computerisation projects.
While the figure of expected annual expenditure of RM30 million in IT for the next five years by the Sarawak State Government sounds quite impressive, it is a very small sum when the Sarawak state’s huge budget, every year is taken into account The Sarawak. State Government’s 1995 Budget for instance stands at RM2.2 billion.
Ten days before the Sarawak ITXPO ’95, I was in Kuching and I suggested that the Sarawak State Government allocate RM10 million a year to promote the Information Highway (I-Way) to Sarawakians and increase Internet users in the State.
With an annual budget of RM2.2 billion, the Sarawak State Government should set an example for all other ‘states by allocating RM10 million a year to educate the people in the State about how to use the Internet and to inform them about its poten¬tial for social and economic development – which will mean in¬creasing the annual expenditure of the Sarawak State Government on IT to R40 million a year or RM200 million for the next five years under the Seventh Malaysia Plan.
The Sarawak state government should have an added reason to promote the Information Highway, for the IT revolution has wiped out geographical barriers and geography is no longer a disadvantage.
In a world of interconnected high-speed networks, every place, whether Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, Kota Bahru, Kuala Trengga-nu, Kuantan or Alor Star could be the “centre of the world”!
All that is needed to wipe out geographical barriers and to be at “the centre of the world” is to have a computer, a modem and a telephone line (as well as a Jaring membership) to get onto the Internet and co plug into the world-wide web of information together with 50 million other internet users.
I hope that the Sarawak Chief Minister can seriously consider this proposal of allocating RM10 million a year to promote internet access for Sarawakians, which will definitely be more productive for the state and the country than many other mega-expenditures!
If such an example could be emulated by all the other State Government so as to make Malaysia a leader in information highway development, it will also make economic sense.
The information industry is one of world’s fastest-growing dynamic industries and is forecast to account for more than 15% of the world’s GNP by the year 2000.
Recently, the Association of the Computer Industry Malaysia (PIKOM) announced that the local information technology (IT) is estimated to reach RM3.8 billion in revenue for 1995, which is less than 2 per cent of Malaysia’s GNP-which though laudable is still a far cry if the local information industry is to account for 15 per cent of Malaysia’s GNP.