IT : Information technology vital to achieving Vision 2020, says Najib

Pointing the way to growth ————————–
INFORMATION technology holds the key to Malaysia’s efforts at becoming an industrialised country by 2020, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday.

“Those that have information will have power. Those that have access to information technology will have access to power,” he said in opening remarks at a conference on Malaysian affairs.

The two-day meeting on Malaysia’s politics, security, economy and society is organised jointly by the Malaysian Strategic Research Centre and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Datuk Najib noted that while information technology in the form of computers, for example, was found in many parts of Malaysia, it had not extended to the country’s rural areas.

“Personal computers may not be as visible an instrument of IT in the rural areas as they are in the cities,” he said. “At a time when much emphasis is being given to industrialisation, we must not neglect the marginalised societies in the country… We do not want to create pockets of groups which have become detached from the main.”

The government would step up efforts to expose rural districts to information technology by encouraging the use of computers in schools in such areas for a start, he told the 40 participants attending the conference at the Hilton International hotel.

Once largely an agricultural society, Malaysia has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.

With a projected economic growth of 8.4 per cent for next year, it is fired by a vision to become fully developed by the year 2020.

Quoting futurologist John Naisbitt, who in his book Global Paradox argued that information technology would drive change just as manufacturing did in the industrial era, Datuk Najib said:

“Information technology is going to be sine qua non to the realisation of Malaysia’s industrialisation drive.”

He added that as Malaysia developed economically and became global in outlook, quick access to information became “urgent and critical” especially for its service sector. “It has been said many times that the service industry in Malaysia needs to be enhanced. Information technology is indispensable for the development of such industries,” he stressed.

He said Malaysia was receiving information technology rapidly, mainly from the developed countries. “Today, even small businesses have faxes, and these useful machines have already become a required item in all types of businesses.”

He noted that while E-mail or electronic mail – the “in-thing these days” – was not generally used in the country, it was only a matter of time before it became part of the “Malaysian lingo”.

“Given the rapid pace of transformation of information technology, we have very little choice but to keep up with the trends,” he said.

“We need not be at the frontier of information technology, but we must certainly be aware of its availability and existence and have access to them if required.”

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