Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 2nd October 2009:
Malaysia in unchecked plunge in IT international competitiveness as illustrated by another adverse global study – the 2009 Oxford/Cisco Global Broadband Quality Score
Thirteen years ago Malaysia proclaimed the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as "a gift to the world" and the centrepiece of the country's strategic initiative to leapfrog the nation into the IT era to become one of the world IT powers.
Since then, MSC and Malaysia have faded away from the world radar screen as an international IT hotspot – and Malaysia’s unchecked plunge in IT international competitiveness in the past decade has been confirmed by another adverse global study – the 2009 Oxford/Cisco Global Broadband Quality Score.
This study of the global state of broadband quality put Malaysia 53rd out of 66 countries in terms of the quality and reach of its networks – understandably behind countries like Korea, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, United States but also trailing countries we should be leading like Turkey, Chile, China, Qatar, Brazil, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Thailand, Tunisia, Mexico, Philippines and UAE.
Malaysia could not make it into the three top broadband categories of “Ready for tomorrow” (nine countries led by South Korea and Japan), “Comfortably enjoying today’s applications” (16 nations), “Meeting needs of today’s applications” (14 nations), but falls in the last category of “Below today’s applications threshold” (27 nations) and occupying the 17th position.
South Korea and Japan continue to dominate the league table in this second global study, largely due to their commitment to fast networks.
In South Korea, for instance, the government has promised universal speeds of up to 1Gbps by 2012.
Internationally, broadband quality has moved from one of penetration, i.e. who had broadband connection and who did not, to broadband speed but Malaysia is till bogged down in the initial stage.
Some six months ago, when Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim was also appointed Communications Minister apart from his other portfolios of Information, Culture and Arts, I had called on him to give top priority to turn Malaysia into a broadband power, both in broadband penetration rate as well as in broadband speed if Malaysia is to enhance its competitiveness to take its rightful place in the global arena.
I had asked what was Malaysia’s national average broadband speed as nobody was talking about 2Mbps – lucky if 512 or 256kbps without disruptions!
At that time, the Australian government had just announced a A$43 billion new national broadband plan to provide broadband speeds of 100 Mbps to about 90 per cent of Australian homes, schools, and businesses by 2018. The other 10 per cent will get broadband access via wireless technology.
In the United States, President Barack Obama had announced a US$7.2 billion “broadband” stimulus and begun the process of developing a holistic plan for improving broadband access nationwide.
In the United Kingdom, the government was committed to provide broadband to every household with a minimum speed of 2Mbps, although a survey showed that 55% of the population believed 2Mbps would be too slow for a national minimum broadband speed.
Has Malaysia a National Broadband Quality Policy?
Why has Malaysia trailed so badly behind other countries when we were the first in the IT start-off with the proclamation of MSC in 1996?
The answer must be found not in IT but in governance and leadership, whether Malaysia has the political will to totally revamp the civil service, education, employment and ICT policies to attract and retain the best and the brightest, to give real meaning to “meritocracy” while tempered by equity considerations - the preconditions for Malaysia to compete with the rest of the world to become an IT power.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor