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Laureate 2010
Statement by His Excellency Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak,
Prime Minister of Malaysia

Delivered on his behalf by H.E. Dato’ Seri Utama Rais Yatim, Minister of Information, Communications and Culture




At the outset, allow me to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), particularly the Secretary General of the ITU, H.E. Dr Hamadoun Touré and members of his team for holding this dignified event of tradition. I am truly honoured for being one of the recipients of the 2010 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award. I am humbled by this singular recognition of our efforts towards promoting ICT as a means to providing better life for our people.

My appreciation also goes to the Government and the people of the People’s Republic of China for hosting this occasion and receiving us so graciously in Shanghai.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

145 years ago, on 17 May 1865, a new era in communications began with the founding of the International Telegraph Union – the precursor to the existing ITU. In awe, we witness how technology has changed since. We are extremely fortunate to be living in an era in which technology has advanced most rapidly. The very fact that we are seated here today, to mark the anniversary of the founding of the ITU – the oldest agency of the United Nations some 145 years later, highlights the tremendous progress we have achieved as a global community and further paves the way for the opportunities and potential ICTs presents to us towards our goals of social and economic development for humanity.
 
In this increasingly interconnected and networked world that we live in, it has become critically important for us to keep abreast with the latest technological advancements and continue to tap the huge potential of ICT to build an open, inclusive and knowledge-based society. It is also apt to note that this year’s theme ”Better city, better life with ICTs” becomes a timely reminder for us that the digital divide exists not only in the rural areas but also amongst those less fortunate in the cities. 

More than a decade ago, Malaysia realized the importance of ICTs in national development and nation building. Amongst the policy reforms and initiatives that have been introduced in this sector included privatization of the telecommunications and broadcasting services and the progressive liberalization of the sector. In the desire to harness the benefits of ICTs and based on the principles of convergence, we developed what was then a new institutional arrangement, whereupon we enacted the world’s first convergent legislation – the 1998 Telecommunications and Multimedia Act and established the world’s first converged industry developer and regulator for the communications and multimedia sector. 
 
Since then we have embarked on a vigorous rollout of telecommunications infrastructure involving the wired and wireless, in cities and villages. These have been stepped up of late, such that we are among the first to implement WIMAX and have been rated as one the frontal countries in the world with extensive 3G coverage.  Today our mobile penetration rate stands at 109% of the country’s population of 28 million.
 
Whilst looking forward, we also do not forget the rural and remote area dwellers. We have implemented various Universal Service schemes to increase access to communications services to underserved areas and communities.  We have invested greatly to ensure that our rural communities have access to ICT through community centres, schools, rural libraries and clinics in our efforts to bridge the digital divide as well as increase ICT adoption and raise penetration rates.
 
The country’s premier ICT project, the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) envisioned as a catalyst for the ICT development for my country, has seen much success as it enters into its 14th year. Since its inception in August 1996, we have seen the creation of over 2,000 MSC-status companies, creating more than 100,000 knowledge-based jobs and many home-grown ICT-related products and services, talent and technopreneurs. 
 
In our efforts to transform the country towards becoming a developed nation by 2020, we have created a new economic model which is based on innovation and ICTs. One of the underlying building blocks for this new economic model is our National Broadband Initiative which started less than two years ago, on 16 September 2008 involving a public-private partnership and High Speed Broadband (HSBB) services. Combined with another initiative called Broadband for the General Population, the Government aims to increase the broadband penetration rate nationwide to 50% of by the end of the year.   The immediate focus however is to increase capacity in all the economic areas in Malaysia, targeting specifically commercial and academic entities.  In efforts to drive Broadband Penetration and transition to the Broadband economy, the Government officially launched the National Broadband Initiative on 24 March 2010 which will take us to the next stage of development underpinning Malaysia’s competitiveness and social development
 
The Malaysian Government is committed to ensure that the evolution of Broadband in Malaysia is as widespread as possible with maximum impact for all Malaysian’s.  We have also put in place specific and focused initiatives to bring the peoples of Malaysia, namely those with lesser means, with affordable and equitable access to communications services to empower them to achieve their individual aspirations and collectively, our national aspirations. We do this regardless whether they are in the cities or rural areas. As such the Malaysian Government has recently announced initiatives for setting up Broadband Centers, additional towers and infrastructure as well as boosting PC ownership. At the same time we put a premium on quality and affordability in all our broad band services.

We believe this initiative will drive home social and economic transformation besides achieving our New Economic Model and our objective of becoming a high income nation by the year 2020. We also aspire to become a more competitive nation through innovation, high creativity and the free flow of information. 
 
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Malaysia is honoured that the ITU has named the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats or IMPACT as the physical home of its Global Cybersecurity Agenda. Headquartered in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, IMPACT is tasked with the responsibility to operationalise cybersecurity initiatives across 191 countries. Thanks to its landmark agreement with the ITU and the backing of the United Nations, IMPACT today plays an important global role in bringing together the full might and resources of governments, industry and academia in the fight against cyber threats. 
 
What Malaysia has achieved in the communications and multimedia sector is not the work of one man. The seed of its development had been sowed long before me and it is in this light that I would like to dedicate this Award to my predecessors, the former Prime Ministers of Malaysia and all levels of leadership, for their vision and foresight in laying the foundation of our ICT industry as a means to providing the quantum leap to becoming a knowledge-based economy and a high income nation. ICT  remains as one of our spinal thrusts in forging our well accepted 1Malaysia concept in nation building.

I also dedicate this award to all Malaysians. This recognition is one for Malaysia and I thank the ITU once again for this honour. Of course, there is much more to be done but I see this as the beginning of a new phase in our nation’s journey towards bridging the many gaps and divides towards creating a knowledge-based and high income economy. 

In closing, I enjoin all Malaysians with humility and gratitude in accepting this award. Let us strive to achieving knowledge, lasting peace, and harmony through ICT – the driving force that brings home civilizational changes for us all worldwide.


Thank you.

 


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Updated : 2010-06-25