K.C. Ho, Randolph Kluver, and Kenneth C.C. Yang
For some years, leaders in Asia have argued that Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) would play a significant role in economic, political, and social developments in Asia. There is some compelling evidence of the truth of this judgment, although the outcomes have frequently defied the hopes and dreams of planners. Of all the benefits promised by ICT proponents, the one which seemed to hold the greatest promise within Asia was that of economic development. These benefits may be viewed directly in terms of the creation of a booming market in information and communications equipment and networks, and indirectly in terms of the growing business applications that are linked to ICTs (e.g. online commerce, accounting, and communications). They may also be observed in the proliferation of Internet access, websites, and bulletin boards reaching millions of people, not only in the urban centers of Asia, but also in rural areas. Such developments have also led governments to see an efficient telecommunications infrastructure as a crucial element in the attraction of investments, becoming a priority investment alongside transportation and manpower in the basket of items essential to the building of a country's economic competitiveness.
In order to gather a sort of "mid-term assessment" of the impact of these developments in Asia, the Internet Political Economy Forum and the Information and Communication Management Program at the National University of Singapore convened a conference of scholars and analysts on September 14 and 15, 2001 in Singapore. Dozens of papers were presented which examined a variety of issues associated with Asia's encounter with the Internet, and the economic, political, and social consequences of this encounter. Although the events of September 11 grounded many of our North American participants, the conference was a success in helping us to understand the impact of the Internet in Asia. The goal of this book is to provide a representative sample of some of the issues with which individuals, businesses, and governments across Asia are grappling. The chapters presented in this book are broadly representative not just of the theoretical and policy-oriented issues that have come to the fore, but also of the very different regional and geographic diversity of Asia, and help to