Dato’ Sri Dr. Halim bin Shafie Speech for Launch of e-Sentral Windows eReader Application

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah hi wabarakatuh.

Thank you for having me today. I am truly honoured to be part of an event that combines reading and technology in one.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is no doubt that great historic civilizations comes hand in hand with the knowledge and achievements of that particular society, which may have been documented and transferred via papyrus, bamboo, wax tablet, paper pulp, or even animal skin.

Whilst these early methods of documentation discussed serious subjects in theory of knowledge or rituals, the topics have over the years cover all genre of matters from literature, engineering, religion, comedy, entertainment, and everything that your mind can ever imagine.

Later in history, mankind got smarter and compiled documentations in a bind known as ‘books’.

Great civilizations demonstrated great ability to make and collect books.

The Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, all produced books which came from great writers of their time. As a matter of fact, during the golden years of the Muslim reign under the Ummayah, and later Abbasiyah, plenty of books were written and published in areas of medicine, astronomy, and also social protocol.

So many books made and collected during this period that it was stated by survivors of the siege of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongol army, that the river Tigris turned black from the inks of destroyed books thrown from the Grand Library of Baghdad.

Today, whether we realize it or not, books play a crucial role in our everyday life.

Constitutionally, it is the pride and strength of universities, institutions, and even homes, to demonstrate collections and publications of books.

Globally, UNESCO measures the development of a country by the size of its book industry. The benchmark for a developed nation is a book industry that contributes 1% of its overall Gross Domestic Product.

Sometimes, books are seen as a status symbol, as a key performance index, or even sometimes as old fashion and boring.

Let’s not forget then that these bind documents call books, are actually medium of information and knowledge transfer, and not the knowledge or information itself.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Mankind once again is going through a period of change.

The fascination and embrace for digital offerings today have once again challenge the definition for medium of transferring knowledge, information, story, or even gossip.

Electronically, it is convenient to pass on information via blogs, postings, compiled files, applications and ebooks.

Once again, I would like to remind everyone, that these methods that electronic luxury has brought us are just the medium, and not the knowledge or information itself.

Electronic books, or better known as ebooks, have taken the storm recently in the Western world, eating up more than 30% of book industry market shares in North America and Western Europe.

Whilst for many years scientists and entrepreneurs attempted to replace books with electronic medium, justified by practicality, greener for environment, and cheaper than print; it was actually the availability of touch screen devices, skeuomorphic design for user experience, and the willingness of publishers to make available the contents, were the ingredients that shifted the paradigm in the Western world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is refreshing that we come across a Malaysian ICT company such as eSentral that is carving their name in a very high barrier industry such as ebook.

Their introduction of another eReader application, this time in form of Microsoft Windows Application so that users of this operating system can read books from eSentral repository, is a clear sign of information, stories and knowledge being delivered via a different electronic medium.

Effort from eSentral to cater all operating systems is a good start in creating a clean slate for all Malaysians to read as well as improving reading culture in this country.

This answers many aspiration of the country. Whilst widening the options for reading, ebook business model which promotes download and upload of files via bandwidth of Internet to cross platform users, is a clear definition of creating digital economy for the country.

Lastly, I would also like to take the opportunity to state that it is crucial that we, as a nation, create our own digital industry.

The Internet, although very useful and very powerful, can also quite easily drain out our resources as indirect import when we rely too much on foreign entities.

Leaking money outside of the country in the long run will exhaust the economy.

Close things to our heart, such as local contents, should remain Malaysian as long as we can still serve them to ourselves.


Read by: Mr Toh Swee Hoe, Chief Regulation Officer, MCMC, on behalf of Dato’ Sri Dr Halim bin Shafie, on 12th February 2015, e-Theater, FCM, MMU