Incompetent government leads to incompetent government link companies

Don't blame Rais Yatim and his ministry. The MCMC, one of the agencies under Rais purview is not the only one to shoulder the burden.

Its the system, the government's regulation and over-protectionism for some of its GLCs. While the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture is responsible to sanction, recommend and implement, some of the government's unpractical policies are just there to stay!

We are inching toward becoming a fully-developed nation by the year 2020, and that is less than eight years from now. However, major hiccups in the telecommunication sector is dampening a comprehensive effort in enhancing the sector and its related services.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Malaysia's position in the area of international internet bandwidth took a significant slump, from 60th to 83rd among the 144 countries under the survey.

Our broadband internet subscription per 100 population also slipped from 62nd to 68th while our position in mobile broadband subscription per 100 population stood at 64, worse than than of some African nations!

So, how will the telecommunication and communication sectors cushion the impact of hefty demand for such services when we near 2020?

Being some of the factors that contributed to Malaysia's downward standing (from 21st to 25th), the government, via Rais ministry should consider taking up a more aggressive approach in gearing up such services.

The MCMC, especially those appointed to steer it must open up their mind to new ideas, keeping abreast with latest technology and adopting a more friendlier engagement to new players in the communication industry.

Rais' ministry has a challenging task in meeting the demands and also in meting problems of constraint expertise in the area. The status of a developed nation will not be complete without a commanding telecommunication and communication facilities.

 While the government should also open up the doors to new players with the right set of technology in telecommunication sector, the MCMC must also engage them (the new players) in a more positive manner, and not by telling them 'I will pull (revoke) your license' during a handshake! I don't want to name the MCMC personel but I hope such a bad attitude will change or we will take you to task over your arrogance!

What is our broadband penetration rate now? About 62 per cent? With a 2 per cent acceleration rate per annum, we will only be able to cover about 76 per cent of the nation by year 2020, and that will not reflect the status of a fully-developed nation.

The government, on the other hand is not contributing much. Its policy in protecting some of its GLCs, particularly Telekom Malaysia (TM) is hindering MCMC and others in finding the right tempo to enhance its services.

However, I am also perturbed at the government's call for new players to come in and complement the industry. We actually failed to walk the talk.

While encouraging more local entrepreneurs to jump onto the bandwagon, we imposed a grip on the telecommunication giant, Telekom Malaysia. The government provides it with a full protection to the extent that no other players could come close to it.

TM is afraid of competitions, let alone an idea to complement its services in speeding up the internet penetration to the whole country. To TM, such a move would lead to its eventual demise. In other words, new players could maul TM!

That shouldn't be the case.

Companies like Syarikat Jalur Lebar Nasional (Jalenas) acquires the right knowledge and technology to complement TM but Rais's ministry, the MCMC and the government treat Jalenas with askance, sharing the same sentiment with TM!

To date, Jalenas is the only Bumiputra company with experts in the latest broadband technology, acquiring it from Sweden, the world's hub for broadband.

However, we are not receptive to changes. MCMC refused to recognise Jalenas and take it as a partner but to snub the company with its bullying tactics. Prime Minister Najib who launched Jalenas' first project in Kuantan in 2009 is also ignoring its plight, not understanding the paramount need for engaging the latest telecommunication technology for the country.

But I believe Najib is too busy with his routine. So, Rais has to step in and advise the PM on the issue or his ministry will have to take the blame over the sluggish work of the MCMC. Or, does Rais himself understands such needs?

We need to be more open. The government should open up the door to companies like Jalenas to joint hands with MCMC and TM in complementing such a big task in wiring up the whole nation. Even a 90 per cent penetration by the year 2020 will not reflect our fully-developed status.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is an example of how a GLC adopts an open door policy by inviting the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to complement its task in lighting up the whole country. And even with the present number of IPPs, some corners of Malaysia are still in the dark.

We would like to see an openness in managing our communication and telecommunication sectors. Not only that we must open up TM, we must also engage the right people to sit at the MCMC, the people who have the ability to monitor world's innovation and applying it, not a bunch of so-called experts who only warm their seat!

The government, on the other hand, has to employ the right minds who can work and advise the Cabinet on such matters, not a group of 'yesmen' whose role is to 'aye' everything the government decides on.

I hate comparing Malaysia with Singapore but the Republic is at world's no.4 in broadband connectivity, running a 1gbps (giga bytes per second) as compared to Malaysia's between 20-45mbps (mega bytes per second). In South Korea, its between 500 to 800mbps while in Cambodia and Vietnam, its between 50 to 200mbps.

Have you heard that some personal at the Defense Ministry (Mindef) have to fork out extra money from their own pocket to enhance internet speed at their office which stands at only between 2-15mbps?

What a shame!

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