Dwellers in rural and remote areas have never been neglected or marginalised from getting better access to communication, said Communication and Multimedia Deputy Minister Datuk Jailani Johari.

He said the government had implemented various Universal Service Provision programmes in order to ensure that rural communities had access to information communication technology (ICT) through community centres, schools, rural libraries and clinics.

“These are our efforts to bridge the digital divide, as well as increase ICT adoption and raise penetration rates,” he said.

Jailani said this in a speech at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2014 themed, ‘Strategies For A Smarter Society’ in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday.

His speech text was made available here Wednesday.

He cited an example of a successful story of a seaweed farmer named Kabilah Hassan whose life was touched by the ICT and tremendously increased his income from USD57 a month to USD5,700 a month after going online.

“This is some of the prominent examples that has put Malaysia even in the ITU’s report on Measuring the Information Society 2013, whereby Malaysia has been ranked number four in digital natives,” he said.

The deputy minister noted that the Malaysian Government’s efforts had resulted with the broadband penetration from 24 per cent in 2009 to more than 67 per cent this year.

Jailani said according to the statistics from the Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), 72 per cent of the 18.6 million Internet users in Malaysia were between seven and 35 years old.

MCMC also reported that based on a survey conducted on 1,000 higher learning students, 600 of them had the habit of spending most of their time online, especially on social media whereby, the addiction had led them to health and cyber threat, he said.