Current Affairs

Killing techies the Malaysian way

After the draconian Peaceful Assembly Bill, Malaysia is now trotting out the next Really Bad Idea: the Computing Professionals Bill 2011. You can read the draft bill here.

The gist of it is this: the plan is to create a Board of Computing Professionals and make it mandatory by law for all computing professionals to be registered with and certified by said board.

This board will decide whether you are a ‘properly’ qualified professional. There will of course be registration fees involved, payable yearly. And a proposed ‘fund’ created. Why does all this smell rather like a poorly disguised moneymaking scheme?

If you are NOT a registered member, you are prohibited from submitting “proposals,plans,designs,drawings,schemes,reports,studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia”.

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.

In countries like Australia, there are professional bodies like the Australian Computer Society. But enrollment is voluntary – in Malaysia, the powers that be are figuratively putting a gun to the head of every computing professional. “Register or you’ll be deemed doing business illegally.”

Why is this a big deal? The bill goes against the grain of everything tech stands for. It’s about innovation and the freedom to create; things this bill intends to snuff out. What’s to stop the country from deciding what kind of tech we’re allowed to create?

The bill even states that IT professionals are not allowed to participate in fields not within their expertise. So if I’m a registered systems analyst but taught myself to program in Rails in my spare time, it would be ILLEGAL for me to do some coding for a client unless I re-declare my skills.

As an IT grad and ex-tech worker, I learned first-hand that it isn’t paper qualifications that count as much as proven skills. I know programmers without degrees or any form of certification who are skilled, competent  and in most cases, entirely self-taught. After all, the biggest names in the global IT industry —Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Larry Ellison—dropped out of college.

Dear tech industry workers, I urge you to oppose the bill.

Oppose it because it seeks to force you to limit and narrowly define the scope of your talents.

Oppose it because the government is effectively trying to decide what you can or cannot work on and who you can work with.

Oppose it because unnecessary regulation like this will cripple, not enhance the already challenged industry.

Oppose it because this is a poorly thought out, badly put-together piece of bullcrap.

I’ll be damned if I’ll let the government insist I register with them and pay them money for the freedom to program, build websites and apps or propose tech-related ideas to my fellow Malaysians.

(Featured image courtesy of Funny Junk)

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47 thoughts on “Killing techies the Malaysian way

  1. Pingback: 馬來西亞,我為你哭泣。 | J-Talk > 亂語胡言

  2. Anti-competitive practices have long held sway over the Malaysian tech industry. So it’s not surprising that the powers-that-be have decided to ramp things up a notch.

    What kind of effect do such practices have?

    Here’s an example: as early as 2009, Amazon was looking to bring its Kindle device and Whispernet service to Malaysia. However, as in most countries, they would have to ink a deal with the domestic telco in order to use local cell networks to deliver e-books wirelessly. In this case, it was Telekom Malaysia.

    Telekom insisted on remuneration far beyond that of other countries. Their message was, ‘If you don’t pay us what we ask, we won’t let you into Malaysia.’

    Amazon refused to do business under such terms. And, to this day, Amazon digital products are still not available to Malaysians.

    While the rest of the world surges forward with the rapid uptake of e-books, Malaysia still lags behind.

    This is the primary reason why I have decided to bring my start-up to New Zealand instead of remaining in Malaysia. As an entrepreneur, I find the Malaysian environment too stifling and oppressive. And I believe I’m not the only one. Many other skilled and talented Malaysians are just fed up with the way both Pakatan and Barisan bureaucrats are mishandling things.

  3. ah yes, the malaysian way… we are always forced into corners from high school to university, big brother wants to make all the decisions…idiots

  4. qwerty says:

    “Here’s an example: as early as 2009, Amazon was looking to bring its Kindle device and Whispernet service to Malaysia. However, as in most countries, they would have to ink a deal with the domestic telco in order to use local cell networks to deliver e-books wirelessly. In this case, it was Telekom Malaysia.”

    Would you mind citing the source? I’m interested to read more on it.

  5. Now i understand.. CPB2011.? This is Bad. why Malaysia! Why you do this to me! Even i am dropout and learn IT by myself. Even Internet give me a place to create my own program. why you want to charge us. Bullshit!

  6. Saviour-V says:

    Could you send a PDF of this draft to my e-mail? Can’t seem to get the Scribd document. Thanks. Also, this is a very silly draft of a bill. Something like this should be governed by the industry itself, not by the ruling government, IMHO.

    Some people in Malaysia’s government need to have their eyes gouged out.

  7. You know what, I don’t think the original intention of CPB2011 is to stop unregistered IT/techs from working … I think it may have been aimed at cleaning out cowboys and scammers from the industry. But this bill as is seems certainly like the wrong way to go about that. Its a massive WTF from me.

  8. Angeline says:

    There is a review on the draft CP Bill as follows:

    Board of Computing Professionals Draft Bill Review: Open Review 13/Dec, MOSTI Block C4, Parcel C Putrajaya.

    Follow developments on Twitter under hashtag #CPB2011.

  9. @KY If the bill is passed bloggers will be in fined or jailed because some of them are
    – non IT graduate
    – they can’t apply for the license because they are non IT graduate
    – they are providing a platform for blog readers & indirectly providing a service.

    So we might see each other in jail eating curry rice.
    Wonder if you can still blog about it ah?

    There is a FB page trying to get petition & raise awareness to Oppose this bill – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malaysians-Against-Board-of-Computing-Professionals-Bill/289002177811647

    Please spread the word. Thanks.

  10. Hey former boss (referring to Erna 😛 )

    TLDR: The only thing that really changes with this Act is that critical government services will now only be serviced by an exclusive club which restricts membership according to formal qualifications (and/or extensive proof of experience). Rest of IT not affected.

    After speaking with one of the proponents of the bill, and re-reading the Bill – it turns out that this has been a huge misunderstanding. If you read it carefully, you will find that only “CNII” (Critical National Information Infrastructure) services requires one to be registered. I.e., if you’re in the IT industry, and you don’t provide IT services for the government in critical areas, you don’t need to even be aware of the existence of this act.

    There are only two places in the document which talks about restrictions to non-registered persons. One says that non-registered persons shall not render the services of a registered person. The other says that only registered persons can render services for CNII related stuff.

    The only remaining issue is less major – i.e. that the academics require that the word ‘professional’ to be reserved for those with formal qualifications / training or extensive proof of experience. Considering that this doesn’t affect freedoms in any major way, I’m fine with it.

    Cross posting this in several different places.

    • Mc Wong says:

      Be very careful, they have a way of twisting statutes to make it apply to even non CNII projects!
      The ISA was meant to combat the communist threat in the sixties. See how they use (abuse) it to clamp down on everything from Bersih 2.0, politicians, journalists, activists, students, Except communists.

    • Charles F Moreira says:

      Some of the responses to this news are like pigeons responding to a cat which was thrown amongst them.

      I am an ordinary member of the Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) and was registered as a Graduate Engineer with the Board of Engineers, Malaysia in 1980.

      Speaking as an ordinary member and not on behalf of the MNCC, this is what I know.

      The MNCC is a learned society of computing professionals which has no authority and membership does not indicate any computing professional accreditation of members.

      For many years, the MNCC had been lobbying the government to set up a body to provide professional accreditation status for computing professionals, much like Registered Professional Engineer with the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM). Well, this proposed Board of Computing Professionals (BCP) will be just like the BEM, the Legal Profession Qualifying Board, the Malaysian Medical Council and so on.

      Now my not being registered as a Professional Engineer with the BEM has not stopped me from working as a process engineer in a semiconductor assembly plant or as a computer service engineer.

      Electronics engineering work in Malaysia rarely requires one to be a Professional Engineer since most of the work we do is on products which are not of a life threatening nature or risks causing serious damage of a commercial nature; unlike electrical engineers, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and chemical engineers; or doctors and lawyers.

      Likewise some of my friends have a law degree and don’t need to have a Certificate of Legal Practice to work as a legal advisor for a company.

      So unless an electronics engineer wants to have an engineering consultancy or practice, especially one which undertakes major projects for government, the utilities or industry, there’s no need to become accredited as a professional engineer.

      Also, no engineering, law or medical graduate is compelled to register with their respective professional accreditation body unless they want to practice their profession.

      Likewise with this proposed law to set up a Board of Computing Professionals, which MOSTI has clarified only applies to computer professionals who want to work on systems of critical national importance or the failure of which could cause loss of life or serious commercial or economic damage – i.e.:-

      National Defence & Security
      Banking & Finance
      Information & Communications
      Energy
      Transportation
      Water
      Health Services
      Government
      Emergency Services
      Food & Agriculture

      So if one is going to write a app for an iPhone, a game, website or an app for a PC, one would not need to register with the proposed Board but for those who do, yes they will have to undergo the required professional experience under the guidance of a registered computing professional and undertake the required professional competency examinations, including on codes of professional ethics, best practices, etc, just like professional engineers, doctors, lawyers and so on.

      In the west and other advanced countries, even plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, mechanics, metalworkers, machinists and other skilled tradespersons must undergo a theoretical course, followed by a period of apprenticeship under a qualified master in their trade. Also now in Malaysia, even insurance agents and real estate agents must pass some exams to ensure their competence.

      Heck! Even airline pilots must qualify to be allowed to fly different aircraft types, usually starting from smaller airliners and graduating to larger airliners such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, while aero engine mechanics must be certified to service each type of engine, airframe, etc.

      Some of my friends are certified aircraft mechanics are are earning a lot both in Malaysia and overseas.

      These certified skilled tradespersons can command higher pay than some university graduates.

      So what’s the big deal over computing professionals undergoing such a professional accreditation.

      Yes. It’s the same. You want to code for a computing project of critical importance in a particular language, then you be accredited to program in that language and if you want to program in another language, then get accredited in that language .

      Hey! Some commercial computing and networking certifications require the holder regularly recertify themselves to be able to wear the certification. Does anybody complain?

      I understand that while Indian IT professionals are keen to get accredited, Malaysian IT professionals are somehow rather loath to be accredited.

        • Charles F Moreira says:

          That is the problem I guess.

          However, would you prefer to be treated by a doctor whose competence has been accredited or by a houseman (intern in the US) fresh out of university?

          Would you prefer to be represented by a lawyer who’s already been called to the bar (a barrister) of by a law graduate with just an LLB.

          Would you prefer to have your accounts drawn up by a Certified Accountant or a Chartered Accountant or by just an accounting graduate?

          This is basically what this BCP is trying to achieve for computing professionals.

      • SlackwareDude says:

        Charles,

        With all due respect, first let’s try to be idea-centric.

        Great minds focus on ideas
        Average minds focus on events
        Small minds focus on people.

        Now, considering the facts that a certain body (CPB) will govern and dictate all the government’s IT related needs by CBD this could led to abuse and monopoly of services. A form of abuse and can monopolize all the IT needs in Malaysian government and also not to mention that Malaysian Government lose the opportunity to seek for better and best IT solutions out there (e.g. UK or Europe Based IT Solutions) because they are not certified by the board.

        And take note of the draft that there are no proper guidelines and criteria for certifying IT Professionals.
        1) Should the IT professional need to take a certification exam?
        2) Who will conduct the Exam?
        3) What standards does CPB should implement?
        4) Is the board will also decide on what technology or solution the IT Professional needs to adopt? (Cisco, Microsoft, Linux, Unix, and etc.)

  11. Tim says:

    I think they might have been forced to implement it in Nigeria because of all the Nigerian email scammers.

    Not saying that we don’t have scammers in Malaysia. It’s just that the scammers are all in the government…

  12. Syah says:

    I agree with Wilz. You need to read the whole draft first to understand the content.
    I am OK with the proposed Bill because of the application to CNII. You want people who are skilled, experienced and qualified to work on these CNII.
    We will face teething problems, but I think this is a good start.

  13. Zao says:

    do you have a proper documentation or even any evidence that your claims of this scheme exists? if not, you should take this post down. don’t post something that is unsure or you will end up helping one of those who are lying for selfish reasons, making YOU are one of them. Want me to elaborate?

  14. Erna Mahyuni says:

    Zao: I have industry insider emails as proof. Also the PDF copy of the bill has been verified by someone in the know. So please-lah don’t call me a liar.

    • Zao says:

      it seems that you are already misunderstood my post. to make things easier, what do you have to say about Wilz’s post? from your reply i can see that you are the type that do not seek information to the root, so you have the tendency to get false information. and also shows how immature you are. sorry for being harsh but you need to control yourself. this is a serious matter.

  15. Zao says:

    do you have a proper documentation or even any evidence of what you are saying about the scheme? if not, you should take this post down. don’t post something that is unsure or you will end up helping one of those who are lying for selfish reasons by making the public misunderstand about a fact, confusing them, making YOU are one of them. Want me to elaborate?

    edit: changing the sentences.. reread it and found it a bit hard to understand..

  16. I think the so called board can hardly operate a computer / server properly. Let alone this. Btw, I’m a techie for 12 years and going.

    P.s. I think they still think “Cloud” means those that they can see in the sky, LOL.

  17. Pingback: Stop: Computing Professionals Bill 2011 « HazqTechTalk

  18. ePong says:

    This is not a scheme, but a bill that will be tabled and passed. Once passed will become a law, and once become a law they will ammend just whatever they want,”they” is our law makers, you know how efficient they are in making new laws. “Critical” in CNII is as vague as it is. What happen when your coding for iPhone apps were deemed offensive and threaten the national security, isn’t that critical?

  19. OldTechie says:

    OMG! If this Bill is passed, people like me who hold a non-IT Diploma (Let’s say Diploma in Robotics and Industrial Automation) can’t write software for MY OWN FIELD OF EXPERTISE (e.g. software for robot scheduling and management control) because I’M NOT IT CERTIFIED????? Stupid Bill!!!!!

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