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Multimedia Super Corridor and Electronic Government in Malaysia

Introduction

In meeting the challenges of the next decade, the government of Malaysia has taken various kinds of robust action to ensure that the country will be able to adopt a new kind of environment in the new information age. Every public policy has been amended time and again in order to suit the future criteria. The new generation is expected to give more emphasis upon understanding the essence of being an information society. Public and Private sectors have been urged to optimize their knowledge base and tuning their functions in more comprehensive manner by adopting a new style of service delivery and that is done through the manipulation of information technology. This paper will therefore explore evolutionary the establishment of the Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor and the kind of efforts made in the public sector especially on the new so-called national project – Malaysian Electronic Government, one of the flagship applications in the Multimedia Super Corridor Project.

Vision 2020

Vision 2020 was announced by Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, Malaysian Prime Minister at the inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Business Council on February 28, 1991 and it is actually a turning point for the Malaysian society to start a new way of lifestyle to become an informative and progressive society. The Vision highlighted several criteria to achieve its aim in making Malaysia a new developed country according to the Malaysian outlook. Part of the visions implies that Malaysia has to create a progressive society with a highly scientific and technological achievement that requires not only quality human resources but also quality services for public consumption. As a strategy to achieve such vision, Malaysia has embarked on an ambitious plan to leapfrog into the information age by providing intellectual and strategic leadership. The government welcomes the advent of the information age with its promise of a New World order where information, ideas, people, good and services move across border in the most cost effective and liberal ways. Hence this will create a new center of quality and excellent services for the world.

Multimedia Super Corridor

On Mac 7, 1995 Dr. Kenichi Ohmae, Japanese multimedia expert presented his paper to Dr Mahathir Mohammad and his cabinet entitled "Making a Malaysian Miracle – A New National Strategy for Success in The Information Age". This paper was seriously studied and highlighted several strong points for Malaysia to be a regional hub of the information resources in this part of the world. From several discussions on this issue, finally the government agreed to establish a hi-tech advanced multimedia project, so-called Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).

The MSC will have an integrated environment with all the unique elements and attributes necessary to create the perfect global multimedia climate. This "Corridor" is 15 kilometers wide and 50 kilometers long. It starts from Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) down to the south site of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which is a new airport that will be commissioned in the mid year of 1998. It will be equipped with advanced infrastructure (fiber-optic backbone with potential capacity of 2.5-10 gigabit per second) to suit telecommunication services, information and multimedia technology. MSC also will have a 5 gigabit per second fiber-optic links to hub in ASEAN, Japan, the US and Europe, enough bandwidth to handle multimedia conferencing as well as high quality voice communication. With advanced infrastructure too, many services such as banking, commercial and business transaction can be done through computerization. In addition, multipurpose card or sometimes called Smart Card will be introduced to facilitate certain activities. Within this particular area, two new world-first intelligent cities will be developed: Putrajaya and Cyberjaya. In 1993, Putrajaya was initially proposed for the new Federal Government Administrative Center. Its development plan was then finalized on February 22, 1995 to support the new dimension of MSC. As for Cyberjaya, this city will allocate a place for multimedia industries, research and development centers, Multimedia University and operational headquarters for multinationals to direct their worldwide manufacturing and trading activities using multimedia technology.

Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC)

Since this project involves the interest of federal and state government (Selangor), both parties agreed to set up a corporation named as Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) to coordinate every activity related to MSC project. It is a corporation that will be a one-stop agency whose mission is to create the best environment in the world for private sectors companies to pursue and facilitate their investment in the MSC. MDC will enjoy certain powers (statutory powers) to categorize interested company to get MSC status by defining the kind of acceptable multimedia industries that will gain government incentives to operate in the MSC region besides identifying strategic industry concerned. Those companies who get the MSC status are entitled to operate tax free for up to 10 years or receive 100% investment tax allowance besides other benefits and the Malaysian Government’s Bill of Guarantee will guarantee them. In addition, MDC will also responsible to shape MSC laws and policies by advising the government and set standard for the MSC’s information infrastructure and urban development. In general, this corporation will manage and market the MSC besides ensuring the success of the MSC project and the companies operating in it.

Electronic Government

To speed up MSC’s evolution, the Malaysian government has set up seven multimedia applications and these flagship applications are Electronic Government, Telemedicine, Smart School, Multipurpose Card, Research and Development Clusters, Worldwide Manufacturing Web and Borderless Marketing Center. Upon all these applications, Electronic Government has become a center focus under the government main function to optimize its rendering services to the public.

The main purpose of having Electronic Government is to improve in how government operates internally as well as how it delivers services to the people in Malaysia. It will focus on the essence to increase the quality of interaction, accessibility and convenience between citizens and businesses; simultaneously improve information flows and processes within government in ensuring the success of policy development, coordination and enforcement. It will function as a multimedia-networked paperless administration linking Putrajaya to all government centers throughout the country to facilitate inter-governmental collaboration and citizen’s access to governmental services. Electronic Government will later contribute to achieve the political and economic development goals as stated in Vision 2020. This application will enable the government to be more responsive to the needs of its citizens.

Initially the Electronic Government flagship application will focus on services such as Electronic Delivery of Driver and Vehicle Registration, Licensing and Summons Services, Utility Bill Payment, and Ministry of Health On-Line Information, Electronic Procurement, Prime Minister’s Office – Generic Office Environment, Human Resources Management Information System and Project Monitoring System. At the later stage, more governmental services will be transformed utilizing the multimedia technology such as card-based birth and marriage registration, interdepartmental communication and application aims to reengineer, automate and transform the current procurement system. The system will deliver cost savings and faster turnaround times by enabling government to become a "Smart Buyer". PM’s Office-Generic Office Environment will provide a fully integrated, distributed, scalable paperless office environment for the PM’s office by deploying multimedia information technology. Civil Servant will be provided a quick and easy method to access certain information with certain rights of accessibility. Human Resources Management Information System will perform as HRM functions effectively and efficiently in an integrated environment. Project Monitoring System is actually a mechanism for monitoring progress of implemented projects. The service will also provide a platform for exchanging ideas and demonstrating best practice models in information management and communication services.

These priority projects have been thoroughly identified by the Electronic Government Steering Committee which comprises government officials led by the Malaysian Administrative and Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), representatives from MDC, leading private sector multimedia companies, IT companies and appointed consultants.

Public and Private Readiness

MSC project is very sophisticated and it requires supports from many sectors and entities. The public as a whole has to be well informed about the features of this project. Mass media should give high priority to expose the content of MSC project and its flagships for public consumption and convenience. The government should now has a developmental plan to create skillful manpower who are capable of operating and maintaining services in this new environment with the state of the art hi–tech information infrastructure to comply with the needs of the society effectively. The private sectors should also play more important roles especially in the research and development activities to provide a better input in the MSC project. Such cooperation and support will able to realize the real feature of MSC.

Conclusion

In sum, although MSC projects are highly cost but the success of its projects and its applications will lead to a new culture of excellence not only to Malaysian society but it will also be a new paradigm for creating value in the Information Age throughout the world. As indicated in Vision 2020, MSC will be a catalyst to start a new way of lifestyle to become an informative and progressive society with super quality services for all nations as a whole. MSC project is not from a single effort. Its creation comes from harnessing the energy, capabilities and vision of the government, many leading edge companies (such as Microsoft and NTT) and those who are prepared to collaborate in this new environment. MSC and its flagships will enable public to be served efficiently with convenient environment. Services given by both the public and the private sectors will be more transparent and responsive. It will serve better interlink for the global village and give the world a place where the full potential of the information age can be exploited without any artificial limits.

Azman Mohd. Yusof

Graduate School of Policy Science, Saitama University

Communication Policy

25 February 1998