Embrace hyperconnected world for nation-building: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The call of hyperconnected world via digitalised media must be embraced by all for the sake of nation-building.

In an era where information dissemination is at a warp-speed, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak had even pointed out some issues pertaining to the benefits of internet to the government and its challenges when he officiated the Umno International Forum with the theme "A Hyperconnected World: Challenges in Nation Building" at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here, yesterday.

Accountability after the information revolution; disengagement in the age of distraction and the practice of digital diplomacy were the three challenges that need to be confronted to build, develop and sustain nations in this hyperconnected world, said the Umno president.

Najib's view was supported by Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States (US) Embassy, Edgard Kagan, who believed that the ability to listen to and to comprehend the voices of the people will allow governments and political parties to grow stronger.

"The best way to be able to understand the concerns of the people you represent is to listen to them. Listening to their views, however challenging it is, we will benefit from them," said Kagan at one of the forum's sessions titled "Realising the Potential of the Growing Power of the People's Voice".

Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa, on the other hand, said the public should take direct action by themselves to address certain problems rather than just demanding for the government to take actions.

He said this was because action was equally or more valuable than a mere voice.

As the forum came to an end today, Umno Overseas Club chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said hyperconnectivity was like a double-edged sword, presenting both opportunities and challenges.

"It has propelled social media to be a main tool for communications and people now have a channel to voice their opinions. This is good for governments in the decision-making process," said the Communication and Multimedia Minister.

What was more important, he said was how effectively politicians, particularly those in the government could make optimal use of the social media to communicate and reach out to their constituents and stakeholders.

"In a hyperconnected world, you cannot afford not to go down the digital path; and the news cycle is now in real-time – that needs the government to respond in a couple of hours or else the issue will be played by someone else and go viral," Ahmad Shabery said.

He said hyperconnectivity challenged the very essence of a nation state; and even though governments were not yet well placed to keep up with the pace of change and leaders had to think locally to protect cultures, they have to act globally.

"More importantly, as leaders, we need to create an environment that balances both the advantages and potential risks of hyperconnectivity, to ride on its strengths, collaborate with other countries, and use it as a tool for nation building," he said.

Meanwhile, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said government leaders must adapt to the real time news environment as today's news cycle needed them to give real-time response to any issues.

Khairy, who appeared as the last speaker at the forum, said leaders must also adapt to the new changes, where social media runs an unlimited connectivity and speedier access.

The two-day forum hosted some 127 foreign delegates from 34 political parties from 22 countries and diplomatic corps from almost 70 countries. – Bernama