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e-Club @ Marine Parade

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong - Speech Launch of e-Club @ Marine Parade ...

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong - Speech
Launch of e-Club @ Marine Parade

Singapore, 10 November 2001

Infocomm technology has become an essential part of our lives. We need it at work, for social purposes, or simply to make daily living more convenient. The Government's vision is to make Singapore an e-inclusive society, so that all Singaporeans, regardless of age, language, and social or educational background, would be able to enjoy the benefits of an e-lifestyle.

According to the Infocomm Household Survey 2000, 6 out of 10 households in Singapore currently own PCs. About half have Internet access. These statistics put Singapore ahead of other developed economies such as Australia, Taiwan, US, and Hong Kong. However, PC ownership among the lower-income households in Singapore remains low. Among families with a household income of less than $2,000 a month, only 3 out of 10 own a PC. As a society, we need to overcome this digital divide.

The PC Reuse Scheme is one initiative to help overcome the divide. The scheme provides needy families with refurbished PCs bundled with Internet access. Since November 1999, the programme has deployed more than 3,700 refurbished PCs to needy households through its 20 lead agencies such as the Yayasan Mendaki, Enable 2000, SINDA, Association Of Muslim Professionals, and the Singapore Scout Association. All nine CDCs have also pledged, as lead agencies, to refurbish and donate more than 1,800 used PCs under this scheme, this year. IDA's target is to refurbish and donate another 10,000 used PCs within the next 18 months. For individuals and organisations who are thinking of disposing your old Pentium PCs, I urge you to donate them towards this good cause.

Much effort is also being invested to increase the number of IT and Internet access points. Currently, there are more than 8,000 public access points island-wide, distributed across community centres and clubs, libraries, voluntary welfare organizations and Local Area Network centres. With the cost of access ranging from free to several dollars an hour, the public can use these terminals for IT training as well as to retrieve information, communicate online, and participate in other web-based activities.

e-Club @ Marine Parade, which we are launching today, is another key initiative that will e-empower our people by offering IT accessibility and training. At an estimated set-up cost of half a million dollars, the e-Club will benefit Singaporeans in several ways:

First, the e-Club will promote IT literacy among residents. This will help to improve their employability and enhance their quality of life. To date, more than 300 senior citizens, housewives, and workers have received IT training at the e-Club.

Secondly, by providing affordable and convenient access to IT, the e-Club promotes community bonding. The e-Club can be another focal point for residents to get together and interact.

I am particularly pleased to learn that the facilities at the e-Club are disabled-friendly. I am told that the e-Club will work closely with the Infocomm Development Authority, the Marine Parade CDC and organisations for the disabled such as the Very Special Arts Singapore, Bizlink and the Singapore Association for the Deaf, to provide IT training for the disabled. At the end of their training, participants will also receive refurbished PCs, bundled with Internet access.

But the Government alone cannot transform Singapore into a society that embraces infocomm. We need the active participation of the people, public and private sectors to turn our vision into a reality. For example, besides receiving funding from the Marine Parade CDC and the Marine Parade Community Club Management Committee, e-Club @ Marine Parade is fortunate to have the generous support of Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Singapore Pools. Both Hewlett-Packard and Intel sponsored the e-Club's hardware and software valued at US$150,000 and US$20,000 respectively. Singapore Pools also donated $100,000 towards this project. I would like to express my deep appreciation to them for their generosity. They have set an example that I hope many others will follow.