CM: Liberalisation could reduce cost of digital infrastructure, operation

Abang Johari (centre) greets participants at the High Performance Team Retreat held in Melaka.

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MELAKA, Dec 10: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg believes that it is possible to provide cheap and widely available high speed telecommunication and multimedia services in Sarawak if the cost of building the infrastructure and operation could be reduced through liberalisation.

He said this could be done if there was a liberalisation policy for the use of existing and future infrastructure that would allow multiple players’ participation in the provision of such services.

“If the price is high (and) not affordable to users, they won’t change to digital (platforms). So this has to be done through a multi-player (approach),” said Abang Johari today.

He said this at the closing of the High Performance Team Retreat 2017 held here. The retreat was attended by various heads of departments and senior officers from Sarawak.

About 170 officers took part in the three-day retreat to primarily chart the way forward in Sarawak’s quest to leapfrog from a conventional to a digital economy.

Abang Johari pointed out that existing Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) high voltage towers which are currently carrying fibre optics cable should be opened for other telcos to use as a practical solution to reduce the cost of providing fast Internet services in the State.

“It would be a waste of resources not to optimise the use of SEB towers to carry fibre optics cables to transmit large volumes of data which is vital to support a digital economy,” he explained.

He added that the soon to be launched Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) will be the agency to integrate and govern the multi-player services.

“A similar approach worked in other countries like Estonia where the multi-player environment has successfully allowed 4G Internet to be widely available,” he said.

He expressed confidence that the liberalisation policy once put in place would help to significantly reduce the cost of providing a state-wide Internet infrastructure and international gateways to the outside world.

An allocation of RM1 billion from the state coffers was approved in the last State Legislative Assembly sitting and an additional RM500 million will come from the federal government to provide high-speed Internet infrastructure in Sarawak.

Abang Johari reiterated that Sarawak had to capitalise on digital technology to transform itself into a digital economy as the traditional incremental approach would not put the state on par with the digitalised economies of the world.

He said Sarawak needed to achieve a GDP growth of six per cent annually in order to become a high-income developed economy by 2030 and the digitalisation of the economy would be a much-needed enabler.

Earlier, State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohammad Morshidi Abdul Ghani presented a resolution which was the result of labs held in 17 areas where discussions were focused on achieving the goal to transform the state’s economy into a digital economy.

Also present at the ceremony was Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas. — DayakDaily