SAN FRANCISCO: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a private meeting with Facebook chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg at the social media giant’s head office in Menlo Park today.
The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) in a statement here said Najib and Zuckerberg discussed potential collaborative efforts between Facebook and Malaysia.
The discussion centred on efforts to bridge the digital divide and bring Internet accessibility as well as digital opportunities to the unconnected.
On Aug 20 this year, Facebook, together with founding partners Ericsson, Media Tek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung, launched the Internet.org initiative to make Internet access available to the next five billion people.
It is focused on addressing three key challenges – making access affordable, using data more efficiently and helping business drive access – in developing countries.
“Internet.org is a noble and audacious initiative and it is commendable that the industry is making an attempt to be inclusive and to bridge the digital divide.
“The goals are aligned with the aspirations of Digital Malaysia, which seek to digitally empower more Malaysians to seize the opportunities in the Digital Economy,” Najib was quoted in the statement.
“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving people all around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg had said in an earlier statement.
“There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making Internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”
The meeting was part of a series of high-level discussions, demonstrations and announcements that form the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s Experiental Visit to Silicon Valley, organised by MDeC, which is the driver of Malaysia’s Digital Economy initiative, Digital Malaysia and the National ICT initiative, MSC Malaysia.
“With wider Internet accessibility, more Malaysians can be empowered in new areas of digital adoption, use and creation to catalyse our nation’s shift to a new, knowledge-based economy,” Najib said.
The meeting also saw discussions on ways to facilitate better utilisation of Malaysia’s Internet infrastructure to serve more users at a lower cost through means such as the propogation of internet.org’s data encryption models.
Facebook is the most visited site in Malaysia and has 12,747,100 Malaysian users to date, making the country number 18 in the ranking of all Facebook Statistics by Country.
An online social networking service, Facebook was founded in February 2004 by Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Morkovitz and Chris Hughes.
Later, Najib visited another social media giant, Google, at its headquarters in Mountain View, not far from San Francisco city.
Najib was given a tour around the complex and had a meeting with senior officials of Google. It is understood that they had good discussions on collaboration between the two parties.
The prime minister also took the opportunity to meet and chat with nine Malaysian Googlers at the Google office.
According to them, there are more than 20 Malaysians working at Google in fields related to IT.
Quddus Chong, a computer programmer from Sarawak, said he joined Google 18 months ago after working in the US for quite sometime. He did his undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the US.
Norzaini Suhaimi who hails from Kota Baharu in Kelantan has been working at Google for a few years.
She said she enjoyed working at Google as her employer always gave support for them to upgrade their knowledge, skills or career.
Dr Tejinder Kaur Judge from Kuala Lumpur who joined Google as a staff after completing her PhD by research at Google, said she enjoyed working there and had no problem adjusting to life there.
Meanwhile, Andi Jusniar, an Indonesian, whose husband is a Malaysian working for a different company, said she would like to work at Google for as long as she could.
Yok Lian Lee and Cythia Lim said they did not miss home food that much as “there is a banana leaf restaurant nearby where frozen ‘roti canai’ is always available”.
They said finding accommodation or house to rent was also not a problem even though the cost of living was a bit high.
Najib, who looked happy to meet the Malaysians, spent some time chatting with them.
The prime minister was later given a ride in a Google car, a hybrid self-driving car, for about 20 minutes, accompanied by a Google executive around the area.
Yesterday, Najib visited Twitter’s corporate office and headquarters in Market Street, here, where he tweeted two tweets to the surprise of his 1.7 million followers in Malaysia and around the world.
Najib who is on a visit to San Francisco and New York from Sept 22 to 29 had also officiated at the Bio International Advisory Panel Meeting (BIO-IAP) 2013, here, today. — BERNAMA