Julian Matthews, Kuala Lumpur
Multinationals Urged to Raise Projects for Multimedia Corridor
Malaysia is calling for leading information technology (IT) companies worldwide to propose pilot projects for four flagship applications identified for its Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) project, dubbed the "Silicon Valley of the East."
The four applications are electronic government, telemedicine, smart schools and multipurpose smartcards.
"We are telling companies to bid as a consortium as we believe there is not one single company that can provide all the solutions required," said Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) executive chairman Othman Yeop Abdullah at a briefing recently.
The MDC recently announced the concept request for proposals (CRFP), which outlined requirements for companies to comply to when preparing bids for the pilot projects.
The CRFPs were prepared between December 1996 and June this year by joint government-private sector task forces which included international "web-shaper" companies.
Othman said the CRFPs for the MSC applications differed from the norm in that the emphasis were on defining the project objectives and targeted benefits, rather than specifying detailed technical requirements.
"With this approach, we believe that the CRFPs will help attract leading multimedia companies to Malaysia, and encourage collaboration and technology transfer, especially with small- and medium-scale enterprises," he said.
Five CRFPs each have been issued for the electronic government and the smart schools flagship applications, while four were issued for telemedicine and one for the multipurpose smartcard application.
The future scenario of MSC's electronic government application is that eventually most inter-departmental communications and interactions with the public will be conducted via electronic and multimedia means.
Ministries and departments will be equipped with multimedia mobile offices, videoconferencing, digital archiving, shared databases, and digital signature facilities. Government tenders will also be bid for by companies via an electronic procurement system.
Extensive IT Training
The government has already embarked on a mass training drive for its civil servants in preparation for the adoption of electronic government.
A total of 133,500 Malaysian civil servants will receive comprehensive information technology (IT) training between 1997 and 2001. "This critical mass is needed to ensure the smooth transition to a completely paperless government administration," said Chief Secretary to the government Abdul Halim Ali recently.
He said the mass training drive is to be implemented by the National Institute of Public Administration and government-approved, authorized training centers (ATC) from the private sector.
The first batch of 7,000 employees from the Prime Minister's Department are expected to be fully trained in various IT applications by the end of this year.
The smart schools initiative of the MSC is aimed at producing a technologically-literate, thinking workforce which will be well able to perform in the global environment of the information age.
Smart schools are described as schools that use technology extensively in their curriculum, teaching methods, assessment, staff training and management.
The government envisages that all schools will be converted to smart schools by the year 2010. There are currently about 7,000 primary and 1,500 secondary schools in Malaysia.
The MSC's telemedicine application is aimed at allowing the delivery and exchange of up-to-date healthcare information and education among healthcare providers and the community by leveraging current technology.
At a recent seminar, Health Ministry Director-General Abu Bakar Suleiman described the future scenario of telemedicine as one in which healthcare practitioners will use multimedia solutions to formulate personalized health plans for individuals.
He said individual health data from birth to death will also be systematically recorded and made available to practitioners through a national telemedicine network.
The CRFP for the multipurpose smartcard covers development and implementation of a platform for a single card with various integrated functions, including an electronic cash system.
The all-in-one card will be used as a national identity card, driving license, passport, medical data card, cashless payment card, ATM card, debit card and credit card. Some the other applications which may be integrated into it include those for employee provident fund transactions, voter registration, utility bill payment, ticketless air travel and car park access.
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