Malaysia is evolving into a nation of advanced technologies and modern commerce,
as evidenced by the fact that it is one of the most developed and fastest-growing
economies in South-East Asia. The use of Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) is one of the constituents of the Tenth Malaysia Plan, which was formulated
to progress the governments vision to turn Malaysia into an advanced country
by 2020 (EPU, 2010).
As Malaysia is striving to form a knowledge-based economy, by 2015 the Malaysian
Government is planning to shift from their customary face-to-face government
services to online facilities and e-services. This initiative will bring the
level of ICT use in Malaysia in line with that of other developed countries.
However, changes are needed to balance the digital gap between the urban and
the rural. One way to evolve the vision is by promoting rural development through
modernizing village communities from their own traditional mindsets (King
and Nazaruddin, 1992).
To promote rural development, a number of governmental programmes have been
constituted to initiate ICT use among villagers within rural Malaysian states.
In addition, with the aim of furthering socio-cultural improvement, the former
Minister of Information, Communication and Culture, Y.B. Dato Seri Dr.
Rais Yatim conceptualized a Rural Transformation Programme (RTP) by endorsing
ecosystem programmes to elaborate a first-class mindset1
among the rural population.
In March 2010, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC),
alongside the Community Broadband Centre (CBC) viably disseminate rural development
by distributing 1Malaysia Netbooks to underserved families with low income below
RM2000 and erecting 1Malaysia Internet Centres/Telecentres around strategic
rural localities. Later in 2011, they have installed communication towers to
give ICT exposures to the rural population, Sabah and Sarawak also became part
of the Digital Nation platform expansion.
A new system introduced by MCMC called the Universal Service Provision (USP)
aims to promote the use of network services around rural Malaysian states. Universal
Swrvice Provision was entrusted to provide access to basic communication services
for the underserved areas, thus they have installed several network facilities
and have provision of services. This study gives emphasis on one of their prominent
project called the Kampung Tanpa Wayar, or 1Malaysia Wireless Village, which
is a programme attributing to thenational penetration rate of the rural communities
and 1Malaysia Netbook recipients.
1MALAYSIA WIRELESS VILLAGE
1Malaysia Wireless Village is a part of the Malaysian governments broadband
penetration programme and it is a network infrastructure platform to create
awareness to the use of wireless Internet and advanced communication technologies
among rural communities. This provision converges on the widespread availability
of Wireless (Wi-Fi) internet provided by network services through wired connection,
microwave or the satellite system. Network services such as Telekom Malaysia
(TM), Celcom, Digi, Maxis, Redtone and Packet 1 are the main service providers
for Wi-Fi, 3G and WiMax coverage around underserved areas.
From 2011 to the end of 2013 about 3,728 Wireless Villages were recorded by
MCMC (Table 1) to provide Wi-Fi for the countryside communities
in Malaysia. The Wireless Village locations are being implemented through two
||Community Broadband Centre (CBC) to home technology infrastructure
access location is determined by existing CBC service providers or telecentres
developed in earlier phase by the government around nearby villages. By
appointing three wireless Access Points (AP) that connects to the CBC wired
network router can provide Wi-Fi coverage up to 300 metres from the AP sites
to reach the homes of 1Malaysia Netbook recipient
||Collective Broadband Access (CBA) phase 1 technology infrastructure location
is determined by erecting broadband towers around underserved areas with
no Community Broadband Centre (CBC). This infrastructure is developed to
provide wireless access precedence to village libraries, town halls and
The Malaysian government plans to provide wireless Internet services for a
minimum fee. This concept encourages the improvement of rural living quality
by bridging the rural and urban digital gap to improve rural communication infrastructure
so that younger generations will have the desire to work in their hometown due
to increases in local entrepreneurial, stakeholder and employment opportunities.
Despite the spread of Wireless Villages in Malaysia, there is currently little
understanding of the potential benefits that can be offered. Obtaining such
an understanding is important, as a lack of knowledge will inevitably hinder
concerned parties abilities to construct concrete strategies by which to further
improve ICT usage among rural communities. In response to this, the present
study tried to fill the gap by exploring the potential benefits of the 1Malaysia
Wireless Village programme towards the transformation of rural society into
the progression of a 1Malaysia knowledge nation.
As mentioned in their report, EPU (2010) highlighted
communication facilities are embedded as one of the fundamental utility in the
Nasional Transformation Programme (NTP) intended for new development areas,
especially the rural zones with little to non-existent basic communication facilities.
The implementation of 1Malaysia Wireless Village programme can ensure benefits
of communication and information technology innovations for the rural communities.
Malaysia is in the progression into becoming a more connected, educated and
culturally competent nation to reach the goal set by the government to turn
Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020 (EPU, 2010;
Bilbao-Osorio et al., 2013; MCMC,
2011; Zulkifli and Sulaiman, 2009).
LEVEL OF INTERNET USAGE IN RURAL AREAS IN MALAYSIA
The imbalance of infrastructure that exists between rural and city environments
has caused the villagers in Malaysia to have certain blindness when it comes
to ICT. Unlike those living in cities, villagers lack access to the Internet
due to limited modern technology facilities like Internet cyber cafes and broadband
towers in their less urban areas. In 2002, the government launched various multi-use
telecentres in rural areas. Now, via the 1Malaysia Netbook initiative which
begun in 2011, most students who came from low-income family backgrounds were
able to be more exposed to the use of ICT and have access to the internet. However,
successfully developing a knowledge nation depends on the level of
openness and acceptance among rural communities in terms of adapting to use
the Internet to enhance their everyday living efficiency.
Based on the diffusion of innovation theory introduced by Rogers
(1995), rural areas in Malaysia can be considered as late majorities
among his categories of adopters, because of their traditional mindset, which
makes it hard for them to quickly adapt to new ideas. As this demographic makes
up one-third of the population, it is essential to inform them about the innovative
functions of ICT and encourage their modern-technology awareness. This segment
of the population needs to understand the benefits of ICT use in order to apply
it as a utility to assist in their daily routines.
Another form of encouragement should come from the local leaders. Therefore,
it is vital for local leaders (known as Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan
Kampung (JKKK), or the Village Development and Security Committee) to encourage
and show an exemplary use of Internet, due to the large amount of influence
they have over the local community. New ideas for innovation can be successfully
be implemented with support from local leaders; the main idea is to encourage
the acceptance of 1Malaysia Wireless Villages within rural communities, as ICT
can profit various sectors and individuals. Within this programme, the government
is providing affordable and easy access to the Internet. Just by providing advanced
access points, all underserved families provided with a 1Malaysia Netbook can
access the Internet from their houses or community centres.
There were several studies done to examine the impacts of ICT programmes on
rural communities knowledge regarding the use of technology in Malaysian
countryside. Hassan et al. (2008) conducted
personal interviews and surveys on 1,250 villagers who were involved in ICT
programmes hosted in their villages. The findings showed that the offered courses
and trainings had a positive impact on the participants. About 61.6% of the
respondents claimed that they were not ICT blind as each of them have used a
computer at least once before joining the organized programmes. However, the
level of their computer usage skill was known to be at most basic level like
typing in Microsoft Words. The results also showed that their internet knowledge
was quite intermediate, at least 53.4% claimed that they knew what the internet
is but only 36.8% have used the internet before and 65.2% used the internet
for basic purposes that involved web surfing, email and chatting. Only 5.3%
integrated internet for innovative use encompassing all the possible use of
internet and started a website or an e-group on their own. One may conclude
that most of these villagers still had a low level of knowledge and skills when
it comes to ICT use due to lack of ICT exposure in their area.
Hassan et al. (2008) findings demonstrated
another factor contributing to the ineffective intention for rural ICT exposure,
which was rural communitys poor enrolment and lack of encouragement to
enter ICT programmes. Meanwhile, a study by Omar et
al. (2008) conveyed a broader view on factors that could cause the success
or failure of an ICT programme through different constituencys perspectives.
The downcast of rural communitys involvement in countryside ICT programmes
were due to lack of proper appliances, management, finances and support services.
What these two studies have in common was highlighted to have the role of the
elected village representatives to be more supportive in encouraging rural residents
input in ICT programmes as principally they would know the importance of appliances
and basic necessity of ICT programmes in their rural area. Hence, after the
villagers got involved in ICT programmes, they learnt how to apply it to a better
use that can heighten their knowledge of ICT use and socio-economic.
In a study of Internet usage among rural communities in Malaysia (Zulkifli
and Sulaiman, 2009), the results showed that 70-80% of users agreed that
the use of Internet has improved their work-related skills, made them better
informed about current issues and information, given them a source of entertainment
and have widened their social network. This study was based on the establishment
of community buildings in the form of KedaiKom telecentres in Perak State. The
study revealed that the most active users were within teenagers to young adults,
or those aged under 25 and were mostly unemployed, single students. Similarly,
the head of Pernec, from Sarawak zone, Hamdan, agreed that the Wireless Village
programme could stimulate socialization among the villagers and strengthen the
bond between people from different villages, who gathered at the local hotspot
to surf the Internet (MCMC, 2011).
Another study, by Razak (2009), which focused on the
impact of wireless technology among Malaysian society, similarly stated that
50% of the 767 active ICT users in rural areas were aged from 15-25 year old
students. The study concluded that only 34.7% of the 995 rural families surveyed,
most of them who came from a low-income group, owned a laptop, has asserted
that the use of ICT helped them to sharpen their knowledge base through e-learning,
has encouraged information sharing between friends and has improved their community
infrastructure by overcoming barriers of communication between far-away friends
Samah et al. (2013) study in relation to rural
youth telecentre usage claimed that the use of Internet in rural areas had aroused
community building among its online users because of their sharing and exchanging
of information, which was relevant to human resources. On the downside, these
young adults mostly used the Internet for activities such as Facebook, gaming
and downloading music and foreign movies. Therefore, Razak
et al. (2010) suggested that a university campaign be develop in
rural communities in order to heighten rural usersacademic efficiency.
The positive use of the Internet is said to improve users information-seeking
skills, increase their economic status and make them feel more involved with
the outside world through digitization activities. Razak
(2009) study also implied that the diffusion of Internet was still lacking
among the elder generations in Malaysia rural areas; thus, older communities
were not aware of the potential benefits of ICT on their lives through job creation,
economic growth, political involvement and innovative suggestions provided from
the government and from well-developed countries.
A quantitative study was carried out by Hassan et al.
(2011) to explore the perceived usefulness of ICT usage among 240 JKKK members
(aged from 41-50) in 24 selected rural areas in Malaysia. This study reported
about 60% of perceived usefulness in ICT usage. Meanwhile, 12.1% revealed a
low level of perceived usefulness of ICT services. As mentioned by Rogers
(1995), diffusion of Innovation theory, the exemplary intake of ICT use
by local leaders, who were supposedly in charge of their village development,
could affect the locals opinions on perceiving the Internet as a common
medium to enhance work productivity.
Hassan et al. (2011) implied the importance
of JKKK role as a channel and tool for the government to strengthen the socio-economic
aspects of rural communities. The position of JKKK is an important key by which
to educate the locals on the importance of using ICT services, they shall encourage
its use among the locals. The majority of these JKKKs have agreed that ICT
use had facilitated them a great deal in terms of administration work, such
as typing and calculating data using Microsoft Office applications. In this
era of modernization, most services have turned into, which was quite low. applications
that can be access solely via the Internet. However, the JKKKs scope of understanding
ICT services such as the Internet was still at a basic level, as they have not
receive any ICT training, only 28.8% of Internet usage per week was recorded.
A case study of the use of Wi-Fi technology to increase Internet penetration
rate in Malaysia indicated an advance in communication infrastructure (Kwong
et al., 2011). Kwong et al. (2011)
suggested how the Wireless village programme is cheaper, faster to deploy and
more efficient compared to wired backhaul connectivity. Wireless technology
provides extensive coverage depending on the distance between Advanced Access
Points (AAPs) and its baselines. In Kwong et al.
(2011) case study of Kampung Ulu Dusun (Sabah), only 45 users were found
to actively access the Internet in order to gain knowledge on the agricultural
sector. Instead of seeking out information on agricultural advices, the respondents
were mostly found to use the Internet to enhance their contacts and collaborations
with other farmers from the agricultural sector. Amidst the Wi-Fi usage, the
network programme was found to be easily jammed with a high number of users.
Therefore, suggestions were made to increase network performance through increased
bandwidth for a wider reach. Another study on 360 telecentres users in rural
areas around Malaysia emphasized that the suitability of the telecentres location
and the leadership competency within the telecentres, played a major role in
successful ICT acceptance from the rural communities (Badsar
et al., 2011; Omar et al., 2008).
In order to achieve a democratic political demand where, everyone in the population
are able to contribute towards the social progress and wellbeing of the society,
Max Webers sociological-political view highlighted that a modern pattern
country has the potential to monopolize power over their region (Roth
and Wittich, 1978). Webers view on modernization depicts how each
individuals participation in bureaucratization process of the country is crucial.
Through political, social and cultural aspects, as a citizen of the country
it becomes vital spectre in becoming one society unit.
A modern country has the ability to control the economy of the third-world
developing countries through advanced technology. In order to turn Malaysia
into a developed nation, technology adaptation has to be equal across the population
and all members of society must be active partners and not just objects of communication.
Weber believed that a modern society is more pluralist, in terms of diverse
ethnics the society is able to co-exist. Pluralist views the use of ICT as a
way to ensure equal power distribution, as whoever has access to ICT can potentially
rule the nation (Roth and Wittich, 1978; Woods,
1993). This view was further accentuated by Alvin Tofflers (Woods,
1993) theory of 'The Third Wave Society', in which he explicitly related
how communication technology can shape human development and a knowledge society.
Such a society involves an interactivesystem that allows people to gain power
from knowledge and form a transformed society. These views highlight the need
for increased ICT awareness among the rural communities in Malaysia.
Malaysia is still lacking in terms of its use of ICT, despite existing efforts
to build a digital nation; a Network Readiness Index (NRI) report2
highlighted the importance of technology progress in developing countries in
order to build an information-rich society, which is imperative for the employment
rate (Bilbao-Osorio et al., 2013). In the NRI
report, Malaysia was rated the 57th country exceptional for its ICT use in economic
growth out of 142 countries studied for its technology infrastructure and digital
content economy. This report concluded that Malaysia was still lacking in terms
of its populations use of Internet; Malaysias inclusive internet
usage was ranked the 29th in line. The inefficiency of this rank was due to
the discrepancy of internet usage between the urban and the rural population;
the Malaysian governments use of internet ranked in the top 10, however
Malaysia fell in the 46th place for individual internet usage. These figures
illustrated the digital gap that exists between the privileged and the underserved
society in terms of modern technology use.
Rogers (1986) believed that the lack of equal digitization
in Malaysia or in his term better known as informatization resulted
in Malaysias socioeconomic imbalance. This was due to the rural minoritys
deficient access to computers and other communication and information technologies.
The imbalance in technology infrastructure or digital divide in Malaysia has
slowed down the Economic Transformation Growth (ETG)3
plan to turn Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy in line with the Asian
tigers such as Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.
These countries possesses a remarkable business, modern infrastructure and governance
mechanisms thanks to their use of digital agendas for their outstanding economies,
which were ranked among the best in the world.
The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission Report pointed out that
the percentage of broadband penetration in Malaysia resulted in 67.1% of Internet
subscription by the end of 2013, which emphasizes the need to speed up internet
penetration in Malaysia and to make efforts to further educate rural communities
so as to improve their performance and productivity.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF 1MALAYSIA WIRELESS VILLAGES
Creating connections and gaining information: The role of ICT in ensuring
Malaysia into a well-develop nation by 2020 is crucial to promote the Economic
Transformation Programme (ETP) and Government Transformation Programme (GTP)
in the future. With the existing virtually connected world in Malaysia through
the provision of the Internet and broadband services, connecting rural communities
with the outside world makes it possible for them to fundamentally communicate
and gain access to expansive information. Within studies conducted by Zulkifli
and Sulaiman (2009), Razak (2009) and Razak
et al. (2010), the majority of respondents agreed that online newspapers
and blogs facilitate them to be more aware of current issues. Education-wise,
the Internet helps to sharpen usersknowledge and encourage information-sharing
with their other member online (Samah et al., 2013).
Casual connections through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and so on
have widened their connections with the outside world. The Internet has also
connected the rural and the urban communities.
Kwong et al. (2011) on the Kampung Ulu Dusun
(Sabah) community complemented the studies above by stating that most active
users access the Internet in order to gain more insight into agricultural sectors
due to their agribusiness. The internet helped them expand their contacts and
business collaborations with potential stakeholders. Hamdan (MCMC,
2011) suggested that the Wireless Village programme can promote socializing
between villagers from the same community and other communities while surfing
the Internet. Among rural communities, the main reasons for Internet usage have
been revealed as exchanging information for human capital development in order
to upgrade their knowledge base and obtaining insights on factors that can help
improve their socio-economic status (Hassan et al.,
2008; Omar et al., 2008). Hassan
et al. (2008) study has endorsed the need for extending ICT knowledge
trough early ICT exposure among youth and the late majorities in rural
areas, hence the 1Malaysia Wireless Village Programme will help induce this.
Affordable internet services: The existing 1Malaysia Wireless Village
programme helps to provide affordable Internet access and function as a basic
communication tool. As mentioned previously by Kwong et
al. (2011), the 1Malaysia Wireless Village programme offers a cheaper
and faster distribution of Internet services and is more efficient compared
to wired backhaul connections. In a study mentioned by Omar
et al. (2008) have claimed that one of the main reasons why individuals
used technology was due to its cost-effectiveness, which means that the technology
is affordable for them. There are no more barriers and walls to reach a connected
1Malaysia nation as everyone can now connect virtually through the Internet
with people across the states.
Wireless Villages are also convenient for families who live a mile or two from
the local telecentres, as wireless technology provides extensive Internet coverage
that can easily be accessed from home at any time as long as there is an AAP
nearby. A wireless technology installation is much cheaper, more efficient and
more sustainable, compared to a wired technology. Therefore, the government
provides numerous low-cost Internet services to underprivileged families and
makes it possible for them to gain Internet access. In addition, with the instalment
of satellite dishes with the governments plan to collaborate with one of Koreas
advanced wireless technology in the future, the development of a wireless penetration
seems possible even in isolated rural areas.
Opportunities for effective communication: Unlike one-way communication
media such as the television and the radio, the Internet facilitates two-way
communication. It also removes communication barriers, as rural communities
can now be part of the 1Malaysia nation and contribute to the countrys
development. From a political point of view, Zulkifli and
Sulaiman (2009) highlighted that about 80% of Internet users believed that
the Internet is a medium for communication and be a part of the nation. The
villagers felt like they were able to share ideas and to communicate with people
who are located elsewhere. Samah et al. (2013)
agreed how telecentres can influence community building among its active users
and how ICT can disseminate information; hence empower the users to exchange
ideas virtually online. Thus, the programme will potentially help rural societies
to achieve democracy and achieve equal rights to those living in urban areas,
as Max Weber (Roth and Wittich, 1978) highlighted, rural
communities have to be active partners in voicing out inferences to convalesce
the bureaucracy of the country.
To create a first-class mind individual: The long-term effect of the
National Transformation Programme (NTP) on rural communities may include intellectual
innovations; a first-class mind filled with creative thinking and knowledge.
A first-class mind concept is an achievement of foremost quality for a country
ensuring that the populace have a high stance and integrated spiritual association
with the country. Several scholars have indicated the use of modern technology
as a monopoly of power for the nation to govern their country. Alvin Toffler
(Woods, 1993) specifically claimed that the cyber domain
can shape human development and knowledge and that via active interaction systems
users can explicitly transform from their traditional mind-sets into being more
open and accepting towards diffusion of innovations.
The Malaysian government planned to make Malaysia a global centre or hub for
communications and multimedia. They are recurrently encouraging information-based
services to enable the development of sustainable living quality, promote a
high level of consumer confidence in service delivery and facilitate the efficient
allocation of resources in terms of having a skilled and a knowledgeable labour.
A first class-mind human capital is a useful national asset for Malaysia as
it aims to develop Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy by 2020 by empowering
youths, women and the disabled.
Economic impact at the community level: In the late 1990s, the Malaysian
government introduced the New Development Plan and Vision 2020 to reduce poverty
and relative income inequalities and to equalize the distributional economic
growth for each ethnicity (Sharifah, 2002). The government
has planned ahead with respect how to ensure stable development among the urban
and the rural society. The Internet offers assistance to improve the living
standards of rural communities and teleworkers who can easily work from home,
especially housewives, the disabled and youth community without leaving their
hometown (Malek, 2012).
Rural communities can now work or study from home due to opportunities relating
to available network links. Hence, this programme attracts youths to work in
their hometown or local village and consequently is able to reduce rural individuals
migrating into the city. The 1Malaysia Wireless Village programme is providing
a better socio-economy, opening up more job opportunities, attracting more entrepreneurs
and potential stakeholders such as internet service providers and also providing
the opportunity for the country to become a high-income nation and 1Malaysia
community by closing the digital gap between the rural and the urban population.
Exposure to online services: Online portals to e-government services
such as registration, tax and utility payments, community complaint systems,
online banking, online bookings represents progress for the e-development of
most government and private services that aid in facilitating the needs of rural
communities. Online services have helped youth development and scholars (Hassan
et al., 2008; Zulkifli and Sulaiman, 2009;
Razak, 2009; Razak et al.,
2010) have reported that the majority of young adults seek work and information
online in order to be more aware of curren tissues and to find new jobs. Some
online users had even started online businesses and have encouraged local stakeholders
to invest in rural businesses. Kwong et al. (2011)
study on the Kampung Ulu Dusun (Sabah) community demonstrated the use of the
Internet as a medium for the government to deliver the latest agricultural knowledge
to underserved farmers. The relevant communities are now able to reconnect,
become educated as a culturally competent population and be on a par with the
outside world through the 1Malaysia Wireless Village programme, as well as contributing
to developing Malaysia into a knowledge-based economy by 2020.
As Hassan et al. (2008) emphasized the need
to profusely enhance village communitys involvement in local ICT programmes.
Due to previous observation of poor enrolment and lacking of encouragement by
villagers to join ICT programmes. Although the Malaysian government and several
NGOs have actively organized countless ICT programmes to educate the rural communities,
the contributing factor still lies in the efforts of promotion by a middlemen
or a public relation by the local leader to mediate between the
government agencies and the villagers (Omar et al.,
2008). In line with Hassan et al. (2011),
Samah et al. (2010) and Rogers
(1986) all agreed, consistent training of local leaders would help to avoid
misuse of the Internet and encourage early exposure of ICT use intended for
more innovative resolution in rural community progress for the development of
a knowledge nation.
The Malaysian government is striving to progress its development of Vision
2020 and advancing the Iinternet penetration over peninsular Malaysia and the
states of Borneo has been one of the initiatives. By 2014, 3,728 1Malaysia Wireless
Villages were successfully erected in 12 states. The Wireless Village concept
has the potential to benefit locals who previously had limited access to the
information and communication infrastructure and lacked the privilege to access
The potential benefits of this programme will lead to a more improve socio-economy
of the countryside and allow its inhabitants to be on a par with the rest of
the urban population. If the government can provide more campaigns and educate
rural communities on the positive use of the Internet, these populations will
adapt to new ideas quicker, thus diminishing any late majorities in Malaysia.
This study was supported by Universiti Putra Malaysias Putra Grant, 2013.
1In the ninth Malaysia plan, the former
Prime Minister Y.B. Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi emphasized on nurturing
a first-class mindset among Malaysians. This term refers to the building of
a knowledgeable, competitive, integrity and moral strength attitude within the
mentality of the population; which in turn mobilizes their creativity and innovations.
The anticipation of the first-class mindset is highly compromising the governments
effort to turn Malaysia into a well-develop country
2The Network Readiness Index reports
the use of ICT for economic growth and employment. This report illustrates how
high-speed broadband networks have proven to have long-term positive impacts
on economic systems
3In the 9th Malaysia Plan, ICT is highlighted
as one of the key factors for Malaysia to become a knowledge-based economy