Lim Kit Siang has criticised Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak for attributing the country's low average internet speed to Malaysians who opt for slower internet speeds that is cheaper.
Salleh made the remark in a blog posting yesterday in response to Lim who accused the minister of being preoccupied with propaganda work for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak instead of improving the country's internet infrastructure.
Responding to Salleh's explanation, the DAP supremo called it "the most stupid ministerial statement" that was "poorly researched", stating it was the minister's duty to make high speed internet affordable.
"When Salleh opened his blog statement insinuating that I may not be aware of the wide range of internet speeds that Malaysian can choose from when I complained about the slow internet speed in the country... he was actually highlighting his own ignorance.
"This is because only a person who is not aware that Malaysians, and internet users in all countries, have a wide range of internet speeds to choose from depending on the cost they are prepared to pay, would have chosen to belabor this point when it was completely a non-issue.
"This is not the point, as the issue is that high internet speeds in Malaysia are too costly and unaffordable when compared to other countries when the minister's task is to make them affordable and popular," he said in a statement today.
Yesterday, Salleh said there was a wide range of internet speeds to choose from in Malaysia, including speeds of up to 20Mbps.
"But about 71 percent of Malaysian internet users prefer the slower Streamyx broadband package that offers speeds of between 384 Kbps and 1 Mbps," he said.
The Streamyx 1Mbps package costs RM116.60 while the top end Unifi 20Mbps package cost RM263.94, both provided for by TM, the country's leading internet service provider.
In contrast, Singtel, Singapore's leading internet service provider, offers a minimum internet speed of 300Mbps at SG$49.90 (RM155) while the top end 1Gbps package cost SG$69.90 (RM218).
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Lim said Malaysia was the pioneer when it jumped on the internet bandwagon in Asia with the Multimedia Super Corridor two decades ago to become an IT superpower but today fell behind countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore.
He added Malaysia could not make the average Asean internet speed of 12.4Mbps, recording only 5.5Mbps.
"Can Salleh outline what initiatives he had discussed or introduced in his two months as the new communications and multimedia minister to improve on the internet infrastructure to ensure that Malaysians enjoy fast, affordable and extensive access to the internet?
"I suspect such a notion never entered Salleh’s mind in the past two months, as he was only preoccupied to be the chief propagandist of the prime minister," said Lim.
He also advised Salleh to read the online reactions to his comments.
"There can be no better learning experience for him than to sit down to humbly read the mostly critical and even acidic comments from the readers and to answer them one by one," said Lim.