ITU Award

Our PM is an eminent personality in ICT?! Someone must have forgot to pass me that memo.I was really surprised when I read this in TheStar today. No, surprise is not the right word – it should be shell-shocked. Honestly, I do not know what our dearest PM did to have deserved such an award. He is not a technology pioneer, nor is he the chief executive of any technology. Granted, he is a chief executive of a country but our technology connectivity is back-water at best.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has been named by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as one of the three eminent personalities who have contributed to the ongoing digital revolution.

He joined chairman and chief executive officer of China Mobile Wang Jianzhou and Robert Kahn, one of the early pioneers of the Internet.

They were awarded the 2010 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award in recognition of their dedication to promoting ICT (information and communications technology) as a means of providing a better life for humanity.

The article goes further to say that, “As part of the New Economic Model for Malaysia, he has placed a high priority on strengthening ICT infrastructure. His administration has supported the ITU in strengthening global cybersecurity through the Impact Centre in Cyberjaya.”

Okay, he got awarded for strengthening ICT infrastructure by setting up a global cyber-security centre. I still do not see how this is big enough to deserve such an award. There are lots of people who have contributed greatly to strengthening ICT infrastructure, greater than what our PM had done, from the guys at Bell Labs to the guys at Xerox Parc. In fact, I would put my money on the fact that our PM did not come up with this idea – it was probably proposed by some low-level functionary at one of our ministries or agencies.

However, one can argue that this is like another Obama – being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize based on expectations rather than achievement. Maybe the ITU feels that the priorities placed by our government on ICT in the NEM is expected to yield good results and strengthen global infrastructure, instead of waiting to see if it actually does do anything useful. Going by how things work in this country, I would hazard that it may not work as advertised.

I think that the ITU has made a mistake or at the very least, been pre-mature on the award. The NEM has not even been completely tabled. Maybe the ITU is hoping that by giving this award, they will force our PM to stick to the promises and not to shift our priorities over to agriculture like our previous PM did. Maybe it is a way to apply psychological pressure. Honestly, I think that they have been duped – they do not understand us enough.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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