Friday, December 16, 2011

IT (Information Technology) Bill Kills Malaysia Future

In early 1990s, the former Malaysia Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad launched the Multimedia Super Corridor at Cyberjaya, Malaysia (which adopted from Silicon Valley), he assured the people and foreign investors that Malaysia would never censor the Internet (or free internet censorship). However, recently, the Malaysia Government and the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation (Mosti) propose a drafted Computer Professional Bill which require all the professionals and companies from Information Technology (IT) industry to register with the government before they are allowed to work and offer services within their specialised areas, as defined by the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure guidelines. As such, the government's proposal for the Board of Computing Professionals Bill has provoked a lot of anger and protest among the Malaysian IT professionals in the facebook page.

These are some comments/opinions from New law puts noose around computer techies:

The unrest among computer techies is reflected in a blog article by writer Erna Mahyuni » Killing techies the Malaysian way in which she said:
In other words, if I don’t register, it is technically illegal for me to even email ANY MALAYSIAN with even an IDEA for a tech-related project. It would be against the law for me to even sketch, on a napkin, my idea for a new app while having coffee with someone.
   Want to know the hilarious part? The country with a bill nearly identical to ours is…Nigeria. So we’re taking a leaf out of their book? Brilliant, Malaysia, totally brilliant.

Dinesh Nair, computer security expert, said on Twitter:
When you outlaw computing professionals, only outlaws will be computing professionals.
I just typed " main {printf("hello, world\n")}". I may have committed a crime if the passes.

Malaysia is regarded as several nations badly affected by ‘brain drain’. World Bank figures estimate the number of Malaysian migrants rose by more than 100-fold within a 45-year period, from 9,576 in 1960 to 1,489,168 in 2005. In the past two years, the Malaysia government works closely with  TalentCorp Malaysia to offer some attractive benefits and opportunities to lure global talents and Malaysians abroad to return and work in Malaysia. However, there's not much positive feedback can be seen from the meetings with Malaysians abroad each time. Many of them are still concern about the political, education and religious issues in Malaysia. Beside that, some are concern about the difficulty to get their work permits and PR visas  for their families if they plan to return home. On top of that, many Malaysians and foreign investors are still skeptical and may be affected with frequent amended regulations by the Malaysia government.

Malaysia keeps losing more talented human capital to its neighbouring country, Singapore each year. As Singapore economy is booming and growing stronger in the Southeast Asia region, more Malaysian graduates migrate to Singapore for better job opportunities. If Malaysia government decides to continue implementing the Computer Professional Bill, we foresee many giant and foreign IT companies will be moving their businesses and technologies out of the Multimedia Super Corridor.  Implementing the Computer Professional Bill does not attract the IT companies and foreign investors to Malaysia due to too many complicated regulations and limited areas to grow. As such, the Malaysia government will not only losing its income revenue from IT companies but also losing MORE human resources to its competitive and neighbouring countries like, Singapore and Indonesia for better packages and less complicated regulations from these governments.


DAP: Computing Bill may stifle freedom of speech

By Susan Loo  12 December 2011  Source: Free Malaysiakini

DAP has warned that the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 (CPB) proposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) may be abused to stifle freedom of speech.
In a statement today, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua pointed out that CPB is an attempt by the ministry to regulate all “computing services” provided to entities or persons related to the “critical national information infrastructure” (CNII).
NONEAccording to Pua (left), the Bill defines ‘computing services’ as any services provided to ‘plan, architect, design, create, develop, implement, use and manage information technology systems’.
“Based on this definition, the scope of such services would cover anything from designing websites to the setting up of computer servers to the design and development of any computer products – whether software or hardware.
“In fact, one would easily classify the setting up of blogs and news portals, or even use of Facebook and Twitter accounts as being covered under ‘computing services’,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
On the other hand, CNII, he said, is defined as ‘those assets, systems and functions that are vital to the nation that their incapacity or destruction would have a devastating impact on national economic strength or national image or national defence and security or government capability to function or public health and safety’.
“CNII could hence cover any entity in the government, financial institutions and government linked companies.
“What is absolutely frightening is that the definition would also cover all the way to any website, portal or information technology application which could have a detrimental impact on the ‘national image’ or deemed to hurt the ‘government’s capability to function’,” said Pua.
The Oxford graduate was a chief executive officer of an e-business consulting company before he joined politics in 2007.
Damaging consequences
The Bill also states that any ambiguity in the law shall be determined by the 15-member Board of Computing Professionals (BCP) appointed at the sole discretion of the minister, and subjected only to the minister’s approval.
NONEContrary to the clarification statement made by Mosti, which claimed that the Bill does not restrict the practise of “computing services” and is only limited to CNII, Pua claimed that the Bill has pervasive and damaging consequences not only on the information technology industry, but also infringes on key government commitments under the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill of Guarantees.
The Bill of Guarantees has promised ‘unrestricted employment of knowledge workers’ and ‘no censorship of the Internet’.
However, Pua said that the CPB will clearly restrict the hiring of knowledge workers by necessitating registration, and could be used to register, regulate and restrict the activities of individuals or corporations to publish news reports or those who use Facebook, Twitter or other similar applications with the excuse of protecting the ‘national image’.
“It is clear that the flimsily drafted CPB has the Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ fingerprints all over it,” he stressed.
He further explained that the information technology and computing industry has been operating without controversy, issues or impediment over the past decades.
Hence there is absolutely no bureaucratic requirement to restrict and control the industry, he said.
Pua will  attend the CPB Open Day organised by Mosti tomorrow at Putrajaya to hear the ministry’s clarifications on the Bill, and to submit the relevant points of objection.


IT Bill may be dumped after outrage

Stakeholders can propose alternatives to boost industry, says deputy minister
Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani  Source: Malay Mail
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 10:11:00

PUTRAJAYA: The controversial Computing Professionals Bill 2011, meant to regulate certification of computer professionals and firms, may not see the light of day.
Faced with mounting outrage by Malaysian professionals since the draft surfaced online last week, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) has conceded the proposal could be abandoned altogether.

The deputy minister, Datuk Fadillah Yusof, said stakeholders can propose an alternate mechanism to help boost the local industry.
“We are facilitating requests by industry players and the academia. Nothing is firm yet. This is only the first sessions to get feedback," he told reporters.
“This body can be any mechanism depending on what the stakeholders want. You must have certain standards or you won’t be up to par with international standards. The government is not controlling but only facilitating."
The ministry held an open day at its headquarters yesterday to gauge feedback from IT professionals.
However, the panellists received a rude awakening from frustrations expressed by the participants.
Datuk Halimah Badioze Zaman from the National Professors Council, alternate chairman of the Higher Education Ministry’s task force on ICT human resource Prof Zaharin Yusoff, Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry, Malaysia (Pikom) president Shaifubahrim Saleh and Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) president Datuk Raja Malik Mohamed were members of the panel.

However, ministry representatives were missing from the panel. Ministry officials later told The Malay Mail it was not responsible for the Bill but only a vehicle to drive it forward.
The Bill aimed to establish a board known as the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP), which would certify the quality of individuals and firms to tender for the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) projects.
According to the Bill, CNII projects dealt with Malaysia's “national economic strength or national image or national defence and security or government capability to function or public health and safety".

Yesterday, during the open day, various groups raised concerns over the ambiguous language used in the draft and what exactly was CNII.
 Many also questioned why IT professionals were not represented in the Bill’s drafting and ldescribed the draft committee as an exclusive club.
The panellists kept reassuring the groups the Bill would not make registration compulsory and regulation was only confined to those involved in the CNII projects.
Shaifubahrim said the committee met more than 50 times over two-and-a-half years to revise the Bill for the interest of the stakeholders and providing an “opportunity” for public feedback.
“CNII is only a small aspect of the Bill and not big. We don’t need to harp on this because there will be more rounds for feedback after this. What matters is our national image."
Halimah also pleaded with the public to give the Bill a chance and forgo personal interests.
“You have to see it in a positive light. We are looking at this for the future. We have looked at this Bill for two-and-a-half years and you are looking at it just now," she said.
“We want you on board to help us."


IT professionals unclear over legislation

IT professionals
IT professionals are still unclear over the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 and the need for the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP) to certify individuals and firms that qualify to tender for the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) projects.
1. Y.R.C. Jaya, 24, software engineer: “I am worried for my friends who are not holding a general degree. How could they survive with the BCP?
“I don’t think the Bill would be cancelled, I am sure all of us here know about it but it is better to be controlled. At least you can specify the board’s power and it can only make a decision based on the community’s gathering.”
2. Swee Meng, 27, software engineer: “The issue here is everything falls under CNII, so what do we have left? Everybody has to register with CNII in the end despite registration not being compulsory. I also feel it is unfair to those without degrees because some of them are more competent than the degree holders.
“I am against the Bill but it might be too late.”
3. Goh Choon Ming, 23, System Engineer: “Certification is just a piece of paper. What you need are proven track records, skills and experience because anyone can have a certificate. I can sit for a paper and just ask for a project without any experience.
“I am against the Bill because the root problem is our education system and not the industry. It is not too early to pull it out because we are happy with what we have now. We don’t need certificates to be successful.”
4. Chua Kai Yeong, 37, software engineer: “The Bill does not state what impact it will have on the IT profession. CNII’s definition is also broad. We must have a clearer vision and scope of BCP.
“I don’t agree with the Bill because it is vague. If they can prove the Bill can help take the industry to another level then we can start talking but I still cannot see what good the Bill will do for the industry. Despite the open day today, I am still not clear what the Bill is all about.”
5. Wong Hong Yih, 35, software engineer: “They need to refine the scope for the BCP because no one knows what it is for, especially CNII. The vagueness of their own Bill makes it sound as if anyone who makes a living by using computers will have to register, and that those who don't will be deemed as illegal workers."
“I understand why there is need for BCP, such as the board of engineers. However I am worried the ministry seems to have the sole discretion on revoking and appointing board members, it should be viewed more  independently."
“I can still see why this Bill is a good thing but not for all the reasons they have stated. I don’t think it will play an instrumental role in raising the bar for the IT profession but in terms of security measures for critical systems, then yes.”


Singapore will benefit, says Tee Yong greatly

THE Computing Professionals Bill 2011 will not help boost the local IT industry but instead squeeze the already shrinking talent pool to neighbouring countries.
MCA’s Young Professionals Bureau chief Datuk Chua Tee Yong reiterated the party’s opposition against the proposed Bill and said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) must "step backwards" by consulting with IT professionals.
“I think if this Bill were to go through, the happiest people will be our neighbouring countries because they will be able to attract more talent and it will definitely reduce our competitiveness in the region," he told reporters at a Press conference at the Computing Professionals Bill 2011 open day yesterday.
"The main neighbouring countries to benefit are Singapore and Indonesia. Actually, Indonesia is trying to grow its IT industry because, like in any developing country, IT is now synonymous with every industry."
Chua said the Bill would drive away talent and stifle Malaysia's economic growth.
He disagreed with the ministry’s assertions the Bill would help the employment of IT graduates in Malaysia and believed it would result in more unemployment instead.
“For example, if my company is involved in a CNII project, but there is a good guy who can help but is not  certified, then I can’t hire him,” he said.
The Computing Professionals Bill aims to establish a board, known as the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP), which will certify individuals and firms that qualify to tender for the CNII projects.
DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told reporters earlier the Bill would not provide a “conducive” environment for local talents to innovate new ideas.
“In fact, implementation of such a Bill will only lead to an exodus of talent in Malaysia because they will find the environment substantially more conducive in other countries to pursue their computing dreams," he said.
“Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and hundreds of others ... their successes were based precisely on an environment which encouraged unrestrained creativity, breeding innovation without a leash.”



Malaysia aims for hi-tech future

Groupon lounge area for staff to relax and play video games  
Replicating the success of Silicon Valley is about more than just looking and sounding the same
Entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley say all it takes is one success story to spawn a startup culture.
 As such, Groupsmore may be Malaysia's poster child.
"We have a million subscribers and even my mom uses it," says Joel Neoh, the 28-year-old head of the Malaysian internet trading firm that was recently acquired by the US-based internet giant Groupon for an undisclosed amount.
The idea behind Groupsmore - or Groupon Malaysia as it is now called - is simple: buying in bulk yields better discounts.
Mr Neoh's company asks local businesses to offer discounts, sometimes up to 90%, in return for a certain guaranteed number of customers. The deals are activated once enough people agree to buy online.
"We've made Groupon a household name in Kuala Lumpur," says Mr Neoh.
GroupsMore's staff has grown from eight to 120 in about a year, and the growth is set to continue with plans in place to expand beyond Kuala Lumpur into states across Malaysia.

Joel Neoh, head of Groupon Malaysia speaking with budding entrepreneurs at the tech conference  
Attracting clever and creative staff is not easy, according to Groupon's Malaysian boss

"It's about building the ecosystem around people," says Mr Neoh, "not so much about building towers and good looking buildings and fast internet infrastructure.
'Quality people'
  Groupsmore's success as a home-grown start-up company is deemed inspiring by the Malaysian government, so it is eager to replicate it as part of efforts to shift towards a knowledge-based economy.
But it may not be as easy as it looks, according to Mr Neoh.
During the company's early phase, before the Groupon acquisition, it was difficult to recruit the right people, he says.
"All of the smartest people I studied with were in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia," he says.
"So the scene here is a lack of quality people."
Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube, agrees that it may well be difficult to replicate Silicon Valley's success here in Malaysia.
"What makes Silicon Valley the innovation centre it is are the types of creative minds who set up there," he says.
"Without that pool of talent, it's hard to attract more.
"Even the United States has been unable to replicate a Silicon Valley outside of California."
Brain drain
  In Malaysia's case, the problem appears to be brain drain caused by a controversial policy based on race, according to the World Bank.
Historically, Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent have tended to be richer than the ethnic Malay-majority.

Groupon Malaysia offices  
Malaysia is offering incentives for clever people to return from abroad

In an effort to address this, the government has prioritised Malays when allocating university scholarships and government contracts.
Opposition parties say this policy has made Chinese and Indian Malaysians feel like second class citizens, so many of them have left.
Some 300,000 highly educated ethnic minorities left Malaysia during the last decade, according to the World Bank.
Government reliance
Malaysia's government is now actively trying to recruit these people back by offering incentives such as tax breaks and long-term employment visas for foreign spouses.
They are also trying to retain talent by tailoring the training in universities to ensure employers get the kind of skills they need.
At the same time, the government has come up with various initiatives to fund and drive the hi-tech sector.
This might seem like a good initiative, but such reliance on the government is instead part of the problem, according to Low Huoi Seong of content provider Vision New Media.
"The government has been expected to do too much or government is expecting itself to do too much," he says.

Tomorrow's inventors
  In spite of such gloom, Asia's potential is great, according to venture capitalist Saad Khan from Silicon Valley-based CMEA Capital.
Asia is already leading in gaming and virtual goods, so the next growth market will be the delivery of goods and services in a region where millions of people are just entering the middle class, he says.
"I don't think that innovation is going to come from the US," he says.
"I think it will come from places like here [in Asia] where you're up close and personal, where you know the people, where you know how to sell low cost cell phones, and where you know how to manufacture from that perspective.
"I know the next generation of success is not going to be in the [Silicon] Valley," he says.


1 comment:

incorporation said...

I agree how that would have come off as a pitfall to Malaysia's efforts to lead the pack in IT at least in Southeast Asia. They just got so much regulations that hinder the growth potential of that sector. They should take a loot at the blue prints that Singapore and the Philippines have adapted and take their cue from there.

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