IT knowhow for Muslims


Muslim ministers from four Asean countries yesterday called for greater cooperation, including setting a 10-year target for the Muslim community in the region to attain a higher literacy rate in information technology.

Ministers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, at their annual informal meeting here, discussed how to tackle drug trafficking, the economic crisis and information technology – all of which have a pervasive impact on the 240 million Muslims in the region.

Singapore’s Minister for Community Development and Sports and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Abdullah Tarmugi, speaking at the closing of the one-day meeting, called for Muslims to be IT-literate by 2010 or face the prospect of losing out in an increasingly knowledge-based world economy.

He told The Straits Times later that Singapore was prepared to share its expertise in this field “so that more people will get plugged into the Net”.

“It is to make sure that all of us in Asean are on the right side of the digital divide,” he said.

“We can offer our experience of implementing information technology in the mosques. It will show why it is so vital in improving communications, teaching in the mosques and general administration.”

Singapore yesterday presented five papers at the meeting: on computer education, publishing a syariah-law journal, the economic crisis, youth development and the drug problem.

Most of the other ministers touched on the issue of drugs – a problem which observers believe is the most challenging for the Muslim community.

In their joint statement, the ministers voiced concern that the Asean region had emerged not just as a transit centre for narcotics trafficking, but also as an area that is manufacturing drugs illegally for export and local use.

“The lives of the young are threatened. In the process, it tears apart the social fabric and undermines the defence and security of our society,” they said.

They also looked at how best to rehabilitate drug addicts and said more had to be done to monitor and prevent drug traffickers from operating in the region.

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