Padu and digital inclusivity

Padu and digital inclusivity

Updated 17 minutes ago ·
Published on 13 Jan 2024 11:57AM ·

THE ownership of ICT devices, such as mobile phones and computers (personal computers, laptops, and tablets), is rapidly increasing in Malaysia. The post-pandemic era of Covid-19 has brought about some positive effects in the area of digital technology. We can observe the percentage of computer and mobile phone ownership by households and individuals in Malaysia.

According to The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) report on ICT Access and Use 2022, computer access by households in Malaysia is around 91.3%, while mobile phone ownership is 99.3%.

Internet access, including fixed-wired broadband and mobile broadband, is at 96%. Moreover, this report also highlights the usage of computers, mobile phones, and the Internet by individuals in Malaysia.

The data reveals that mobile phones have the highest usage at 99.1%, followed by the Internet at 97.4%, and computers at 80.2%.

Internet coverage by strata indicates figures above 80% in both urban (98.1%) and rural (89.1%) areas.

Recently, on January 2, 2024, the Malaysian government launched the integrated system of the central database hub (Padu) in Putrajaya. This database hub was initiated by the current Madani unity government.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim emphasised the three objectives of Padu.

The first objective is to establish a national database hub with safety, security, comprehensiveness, and “near real-time” capabilities to ensure accurate processes for digitalisation and data analytics.

Secondly, it aims to draft future national policies where government decisions align with Padu.

Thirdly, it seeks to facilitate the implementation of government policies for targeted groups within society, ensuring socioeconomic benefits and fiscal outlook.

The personal profiles and data of Malaysians and permanent residents above 18 years old, along with their household members, are securely managed by CyberSecurity Malaysia.

The recently launched Padu is on track to achieve one million registrations by this weekend. Given the positive response and enthusiasm observed, the number is anticipated to reach one and a half million by the following weekend.

As of Friday, January 5, 2024, the Department of Statistics Malaysia chief statistician Mohd Uzir Mahiadin reported that Padu had received 612,807 registrations nationwide.

Selangor currently holds the highest number of registrations at 148,547, followed by Johor (66,036), Perak (55,865), the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (44,359), and Sabah (41,482).

It is hoped that the trend of high registration numbers will also be observed in other states, addressing the process of digital inclusion and gradually narrowing the digital gap between Peninsular and Eastern Malaysia states.

However, some people are facing issues with registration and updates in Padu, particularly those residing in rural and remote areas of Sabah, Sarawak, and other states, encountering digital accessibility problems.

Additionally, residents in rural and remote areas face transportation challenges when trying to reach the nearest government agencies, digital economy centers (PEDi), and rural transformation centers to successfully register and update their Padu individual and household database.

For example, an individual from the Song district in Sarawak needs to take a Rajang river boat to either Pekan Kapit PEDi or Pekan Kanowit PEDi, as Song PEDi district is currently inactive.

To achieve the highest number of registrations by March 31, 2024, or within two months, the government may want to consider two conditions.

Firstly, an extension date for registration and updates should be provided, as people in rural and remote areas require ample time for the process.

These individuals face challenges related to Internet coverage and ICT devices in their respective areas.

Similarly, the Jelajah (flying squad) team also needs time to identify areas affected by these issues.

Secondly, the involvement of MPs and local assemblymen is crucial to visit and oversee the Padu registration and update process in their local constituencies.

We, the rakyat, wholeheartedly support Padu for the betterment of our beloved nation. – January 13, 2024.

* Dr Sayed Mohammad Reza Yamani Sayed Umar is a Research Fellow at the Ungku Aziz Centre for Development Studies, Universiti Malaya.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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