From the Selangor Times Issue 22, 29 April – 1 May 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!
This week, His Supreme Eminenceness considers the 1Malaysia email plan, and whether a Royal Commission of Inquiry is a waste of your tax ringgit.
Dear Lord Bobo, what do you think of the proposed “1Malaysia email”? @SSharmila1076, via Twitter
The “1Malaysia email” project is simply one of the most daring, dynamic and doo-be-dodo government initiatives Malaysia has undertaken since the BioValley and E-Village initiatives. The only problem is that it is 20 years too late. The way it was announced, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the people behind it thought they were actually inventing email. A bit like how Proton rebadged Mitsubishis and made it look like we were designing and manufacturing cars from scratch (oh hang on, they’re still doing that).
Amidst the hoopla, these free email folk seem to have forgotten about the nineties and the noughties, and about how free email is, like, so two decades ago. One wonders if these guys have even heard of Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, or Rocketmail? We imagine the group of people behind the idea — and it’s always a group, one rich, bossy person with the idea, and ten others going “brilliant idea Datuk!” — are like Brendan Fraser from Encino Man. They have just awoken from the early 1990s and probably connect to their pop.jaring.my email accounts via a dialup connection. Free email? Revolutionary! You’re a genius!
The email account is supposed to allow direct and secure communication between citizen and government. That would be great if only the average citizen did that regularly. Do you really need another email to just deal with government? You definitely need one if you are into email porn, but the government?
Jokes aside, there are many mysteries with this deal.
First it was a government initiative, then after a backlash, it become a private initiative. Tricubes Berhad, who are supposed to provide this RM50 million project without government funds, is a GN3 company which faces the possibility of de-listing due to its inability to satisfy the regulators of its ability to continue as a going concern. This 1Malaysia email has been said to be a “lifeline” for the company. Please note that this is different from a bailout, so don’t try to be funny.
And guess what? If you want to connect to this fantastic cutting-edge technology, you have to purchase a USB biometric device, which Tricubes will helpfully sell to you. Tricubes are saying they will “sign up” 5.4 million users by year end. How many of these users are civil servants who will be “signed up” involuntarily is anyone’s guess. Of course, the figures are all there to justify it — layers upon layers of complex calculations of selective figures show that the project will increase Gross National Income by RM39 million by 2015.
So, don’t be cynical. This is obviously a noble initiative by a corporation who are not in any way looking to earn money by providing a redundant service.
This is necessary.
This is backed by statistics.
Think of the GNI.
Think of Malaysia.
And hey, in a few years time, someone will have to pay for it to be upgraded for double the cost.
Is the Royal Commission of Inquiry effective in resolving an issue, or it is only squandering taypayers’ money? (translated) @mediakomuniti, via Twitter
April is the month that most of us have to file our tax returns, so His Supreme Eminenceness was expecting an aggravated taxpayer like yourself to couch questions along the lines of “is such-and-such a waste of my tax ringgit?”
First, you must know what the RCI is, and isn’t. It certainly isn’t a Royal Circus of Inquiry, though to the average Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu on the street, it may appear that way with the daily news updates on the on-going Teoh Beng Hock RCI. It doesn’t help when certain politicians demand that RCIs be convened urgently for matters which should be left with the gossip sections of thrashy tabloids or salacious blogs (not the blawg, obviously). Perhaps it’s a badge-of-honour thing to have appeared in headline news “calling for an urgent RCI to look into the matter”.
The RCI is supposed to be a public inquiry into matters of great importance and controversy. Those who sit in it are called “Commissioners”, and are appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.
It is also often said due to its inquisitorial nature, an RCI has power greater than those of a Court. However, these powers are restricted to the scope of the terms of reference. For example, if the terms of reference of a particular RCI was to say… find a particular Banana-O-Mega watch, the Commissioners would have the power to order for the confistication of all Banana-O-Mega watches (both authentic and those special Petaling-Street-only editions), in particular, those found on the wrists of seductive-looking Asian females and pot-bellied not-so-middle-aged-anymore men.
The findings of an RCI are published in volumes and volumes of recommendations, which are not binding on any government officials or implicated parties.
Yes, you read that right — not binding.
Translation: The implementation of the recommendations is discretionary.
Further translation: The general response to an RCI’s findings is: “Interesting. Thanks. Further action ah? See how lah!”
Translation in Malaysia courtesy of Lord Bobo’s Kamus Dewan Banana-hasa: Figure out who a positive implementation will affect, then the most likely action plan will be to announce “we are looking into it” and hope people forget, or just don’t bother doing anything.
Is an RCI effective in resolving an issue? No, simply because there is no follow-up action. The concept is premised on the best intentions, but — sadly — without proper, transparent, fair, and effective action, the RCI might as well just be another tabloid or blog. This will continue to be the case until the powers-that-be can be compelled to take appropriate action based on the findings of the RCI — which is where you, dear reader, can play a role.
Don’t be distracted by media spin which tries to distract you from the main issue with stories of witnesses crying, arguments, petty insignificant exchanges, and other Chinese-drama-style scenes. Focus on the issues. When the RCI delivers its findings, find out what the conclusions are. And then pressure the powers-that-be, via your ADUN, MP, or the online and print media to do something about it.
After all, all this is done using your tax ringgit which you could’ve used to buy yourself a nice Banana-O-Mega watch.
Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. The first 100 questions published will receive monkey-riffic LoyarBurok merchandise courtesy of Selangor Times. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!