Wednesday, August 21, 2002

'One House-One Computer' drive falters

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia's government wants every household to have a computer, but people would rather have the cash, disappointed officials admitted Tuesday.
Under a "One House One Computer" campaign introduced a year ago contributors to the mandatory Employee's Provident Fund (EPF) were allowed to withdraw a certain percentage of their pension savings to buy computers.
But, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said, the scheme was scrapped Monday after it was found that 66% of the people who responded to the scheme abused it.
Abdullah said instead of keeping the computers, EPF contributors resold the machines for cash. "So, what they want is money, not computers," he was quoted by the official Bernama news agency as saying.
However, Abdullah said that despite the setback, the government was determined to find other ways to extend the usage of computers.
"We want to ensure that in this digital age, no one is left behind," he said.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad aims to make Malaysia an information technology hub, opening a 'Multimedia Super Corridor' for the industry and constantly exhorting citizens to keep up with technological developments. -- AFP