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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