Management agencies and today’s youth in Vietnam should be courageous and receptive to the benefits and challenges that the Internet brings, one of the forerunners urged.
Dr. Mai Liem Truc, head of the National Administration of Posts (now the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group), recently spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
He said he ‘gambled’ his position on a guarantee to the country’s leaders of the benefits the Internet would deliver.
He also discussed another topical issue with the same zeal: the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Vietnam lagged decades behind other countries during the First and Second Industrial Revolutions because of war and substandard economic conditions.
In the first phase of the Third Industrial Revolution, which hinged on automation, Internet technology and the digitization of manufacturing, the Southeast Asian country still straggled 30-40 years behind the world regarding the use of television and landline phones.
“The gap was 15 years when it came to mobile technology, but narrowed to only six years following the birth of the Internet,” Dr. Truc said.
“This was a huge stroke of luck. I couldn’t imagine how our country would be if we had been 15 years behind others,” he stressed.
The pundit pins his hopes on the country keeping pace with, and not just following the world during the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is building on the Third and is characterized by the fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
“We tried to persuade the country’s leaders as early as we could, and came to terms with directions and regulations that were not deemed appropriate,” Dr. Truc recalled.
As a consensus could not be reached on Decree 21 stipulating the management of the Internet, then-Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet decided that the order was temporary and subject to revision.
“Looking back, we found a number of management views quite inappropriate, for instance denying Party agencies and armed forces access to the Internet,” he pointed out.
The expert added that he and his group were willing to take on responsibility and worked toward the cause unconditionally for the country’s and people’s sake.
“I have always kept in mind late Prime Minister Kiet’s advice that one can do nothing if they keep watching their chair [position in the leadership]. I personally had nothing to worry about, though I was somewhat concerned about the undesirable effects of the Internet which we couldn’t see at that time,” he shared.
|Dr. Mai Liem Truc (left), former head of the National Administration of Posts (now the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group), is seen in this file photo by Tuoi Tre.|
Then the leader of the National Administration of Posts, Dr. Truc granted permits to four units, including three enterprises outside of the administration to become Internet service providers upon the official launch of the Internet in Vietnam in 1997.
“In fact, opening doors for private firms in the telecoms sector was Prime Minister Kiet’s directive in 1995,” he explained.
The administration was set on the task, but was met with significant hurdles during the next two years.
“We grasped at the opportunity to make the Internet possible, the first-ever service that encouraged competition,” Dr. Truc said.
“We were under pressure, but not much,” he noted.
Dr. Truc admitted that he and his contemporaries could not then fully grasp the power of the global network, which has brought tremendous benefits to the country.
“After two decades, the Internet has made strides beyond our imagination regarding the number of users, speed, frequency and diversity of services available.”
The global network has also significantly boosted Vietnam’s socio-economic development, given birth to new industries, formed a digitalized economy and nurtured e-business, e-government and e-learning, he noted.
The former telecoms head pointed out that this was no less important now than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things (IoT), the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity, enables objects to collect and exchange data, and is the basis of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We can’t afford to lag behind in this race. Management agencies should now foster, not hinder this trend,” he said.
“Twenty years ago, my contemporaries and I fought courageously to open up the Internet in Vietnam. There’s no reason today’s generation should miss the opportunity of IoT because of apprehension with regard to any adverse effects associated with the global network.”
“The Internet is mankind’s greatest invention ever and outshines the Great Wall of China, Egypt’s Pyramids or Babylon, as it has opened up vast cyberspace and enriched people’s lives online.
“Why don’t we, particularly youths, try to make our online life better, and enhance our offline experiences?”