It has been reported that the the first “package” of four cyberlaws to pave the way for Malaysia’s entry into the cyberage are now ready and would be tabled in Parliament next month.
They comprise the Digital Signature Bill that addresses verification of contracts and agreements signed across a computer network or the Internet; the Multimedia Convergence Bill addressing issues involving intellectual property protection in an environment where a product or service could be sourced from various media; the Computer Crimes Bill; and the Telemedicine Development Bill dealing with issues arising from practising telemedicine.
I would urge the government to make public the first package of four cyberlaws to give interested Malaysians the maximum time permissible to study and debate before they are brought to Parliament for debate and enactment.
Cyberlaw is a completely new field not only for Malaysia, but for the world, and nobody can claim to be experts or authorities in cyberlaw, and this is the strongest reason why the drafts of the first package of four cyberlaws should be made public once they are ready, not only for interested Malaysians to give their inputs but also to seek the views of and the entire cyber community in the world.
I would also suggest that the drafts of the first package of the four cyber laws should be posted on the Internet to invite inputs from the larger cyber community on the Internet.
I hope the Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, whom I commend as a conscientious Minister although oftentimes he lacks the power to do what he thinks is right and want to do, would take personal note and set the precedent of posting the proposed cyber legislation on the Internet without any delay
One matter had always baffled me about the government’s seriousness and commitment about Information Technology and the exploitation of new media technologies exemplied by the Internet to transform the way it provides services and information to the public.
Malaysians have been told about the ambitious RM5 billion Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and the plan for the creation of a paperless Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya by 1998.
But what I want to know is why the Government cannot begin to introduce electronic government by stages in certain Ministries and departments without having to wait for the MSC to be completed.
For example, the public should be able to download various government application forms, for example, applying for Public Entertainment Licences, Restricted and International Passports, from the respective government agencies’ websites and forward the completed forms by post.
Or privatge candidates should be able to register for various examinations with the Ministry of Education through the Internet. Similarly, Malaysians should be able to make on-line application for government jobs or scholarships.
As the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment is responsible for ushering Malaysia into the cyberage, it should work out an IT Action Plan to begin to introduce electronic government beginning on 1st January 1997.
I do not see the Government facing any problem if it wants to begin to introduce electronic government, for the Government computerisation process is very advanced. The problem here lies not in information technology, but the political will to exploit the information technology already possessed by the government to begin to introduce electronic government in stages.