Empowering Communities Amid COVID-19 Crisis

 

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Just imagine what it would have been like if the COVID-19 crisis had struck the world before the era of information explosion. For sure, governments and health authorities would have faced great difficulty disseminating crucial information to the people in a fast and efficient manner.

Radio and television stations can only do so much but – thanks to the advent of information and communications technology (ICT) and the Internet – there is nothing like having access to the latest data and information at the tip of one’s finger.   

In a statement issued on May 15 in conjunction with World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which falls today, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said amid the COVID-19 pandemic, technology and telecommunications have been the foundation on which “economies and lives continue to move forward even in the most unprecedented times”.

In times of uncertainty, information has to be delivered as fast as possible and any delay in receiving the information concerned can have grave repercussions, said senior lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment Associate Prof Dr Sawal Hamid Md Ali.

He said besides creating a more informed society, access to information also allows communities to be more aware of the threats around them.

“To make our society better informed, we have to increase the capacity for access to the latest information. This can be done by providing the people with Internet access,” he told Bernama, adding that the rapid developments in wireless technology have enabled the speedy dissemination of data and information on a bigger scale.

He, however, added that with easier access to information, the people must also learn to filter what they read and be able to differentiate between fake and authentic news.  

Universiti Putra Malaysia Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication senior lecturer Dr Syed Agil Syed Alsagoff, meanwhile, said the success of the measures taken by the government to break the chain of COVID-19 infections was greatly dependent on media and communication advocacy.

Various ICT platforms were used to convey the health authorities’ messages to the people, particularly those related to the importance of observing the new normal.

“The new normal way of life has changed the way people think and do things as they are now taking their safety and health into consideration.

“In other words, the (digital) media has played a strategic role in supporting the efforts of the government and helping society to change their ways and live in accordance with the new norms,” he told Bernama.

More importantly, he added, the information relayed to the public must remove the negative perception of some people that the new normal will affect their religious practices and traditions.

RISE IN SUBSCRIPTIONS

In its statement, MCMC said this year’s theme, Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals, focuses on ICT-enabled solutions and emerging trends for fostering economic, environmental and social sustainability. 

Said MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak: “The main purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is to help raise awareness on the positive power of the Internet and other communication technologies, such as uniting societies, strengthening economies and bridging the digital divide.” 

MCMC said in 2019, the total broadband subscription in Malaysia stood at 43.38 million, out of which 2.95 million was for fixed broadband subscription. In 2018, fixed broadband subscription stood at 2.66 million.

The subscription for mobile broadband services increased by about 10 percent to 40.43 million in 2019 compared with 36.79 in 2018.

For 3G services, coverage was at 95.5 percent in 2019 compared to 94.7 percent the previous year. Meanwhile, 4G LTE coverage was at 82.2 percent in 2019 compared with 79.7 in 2018.

According to MCMC, this increase was driven by various factors such as coverage expansion, increased capability, better service quality and increase in data and smartphone usage.

With the implementation of 5G technology, Malaysians will continue to remain connected and be able to reap the benefits of high-quality connectivity.

 

– Published by Kurniawati Kamarudin from BERNAMA on 18 May 2020

Translated by Rema Nambiar

BERNAMA