As Malaysia goes to the polls tomorrow, I thought I’d go back and look at what tech goodness has been achieved by the Najib government after the 12th general elections.
- 1Malaysia Email project (myemail) awarded to Tricubes (delisted from stock exchange) to provide email to every Malaysian. I wroteabout it and was relatively bullish. Failure.
- 1Malaysia laptops at RM990 (link). More than 800,000 disbursed. Never sold to end users by the looks of it. Using the Intel Atom processor, the netbook market is mostly dead now. Mixed (though I haven’t found a student talk about their happiness with this).
- 1Malaysia Pad for RM999 (when similar tablets cost around RM300). Awarded to MalTechPro (website seems to have disappeared – maltechpro.com). Failure.
- 1Malaysia Messenger (1MM) via MalTechPro. To compete with BlackBerry Messenger/Whatsapp. Failure.
- Tried to pass a Computing Professional Bill 2011 and elect a Board of Computing Professionals. Didn’t succeed (good), on the backburner now (not so good). Semi-failure.
- Deep packet inspection leading to Internet filtering and the spread of a document that contains FinSpy (which is still under investigation as to whom benefits). Failure.
- World class broadband infrastructure – we did see the arrival of fibre, so Unifi, Maxis, etc. can provide faster broadband. Success.
- LTE is kind of here. Surprisingly Puncak Semangat has received spectrum. Company linked to Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary (business kingpin). Reminds me a lot of the 3G spectrum debacle, where DiGi didn’t get any so offered EDGE for a very long time; they however did enrich TDC to get the spectrum. Failure.
- Prepaid phones don’t have any GST like postpaid phones. This is due to demographic reasons. There is nothing 1Malaysia about it here. Failure.
- RM200 smartphone rebates. If my speculation is that it’s for spectrum recycling, it’s not entirely a failure, but getting a RM200 rebate on a phone that costs more than a basic 3G phone (i.e. no more than RM500) is absurd. Failure.
Did I miss anything?
If the elections are won by BN, it looks like there are promises of laptops for everyone. These seem to be Chromebooks, via 1BestariNet (interesting article to read). So there’s some tech to look forward to post-GE13 if Najib forms government.
Update (Sun 5 May 2013 01:39:07 MYT): Tekong informs that the poor in rural/urban areas will soon enjoy half an hour of Internet usage for free, via all telcos and ISPs because a study conducted shows people only use 15-30 minutes of access per day. This can be good to bridge the digital divide, though it looks like its something that only comes post-GE13. Too early to rate yet.
More updates on Internet censorship in Malaysia (follow up from yesterday, As elections nears, Malaysia filters the Internet).
- MCMC denies that there are access restrictions, claiming high traffic is what slows sites down. Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman, the strategic communications chief needs to realise that he’s dealing with people smarter than he is, so this kind of bullshit isn’t going to work.
- Brian Ritchie made an infographic on helping people bypass the censorship. Should be good for most end users.
- Khairil Yusof from the Sinar project made a simple Python app to help you see if your connection is being filtered. This requires you to have a Python interpreter.
- An anonymous source pointed me to For Their Eyes Only. The report is chilling. Do a search for Malaysia (it’s a long PDF, I’ve not been able to read it all). It is covered in TMI and security.my. Avoid this file: SENARAI CADANGAN CALON PRU KE-13 MENGIKUT NEGERI.doc. If you’ve opened it, you’ve got FinSpy. This was brought up before by TMI via the NYT, however MCMC ended up investigating TMI over this.
In other news, it’s World Press Freedom Day. Remember that access is equally as important as freedom of expression.
I just stumbled upon nushackers (formerly linuxNUS). Here are a group of people from the National University of Singapore, who organise weekly talks (Friday Hacks), as well as workshops (hackerschool).
I’m totally inspired by what’s happening, it kind of reminds me of the CSSE Student Club I was a part of back at my alma mater. The extension to that was GAUNIX, in where we controlled a machine supported by the university and gave folk shell access.
Great things happen when hackers meet up with each other. And here I’m referring to the hackers, not just the idea folk/business people. Just people playing around with new things, tinkering, sharing about new technology, building stuff.
There used to be MyOSS meetups in Malaysia. Now there is WebCampKL, but this is a meld of people who are not exactly hackers.
I reckon this is what’s missing in the Malaysian space – it needs to be fixed.
While I am not in Malaysia and cannot verify this myself, reliable sources have mentioned that there is filtering/censorship happening in Malaysia on the Internet. This isn’t the first time Malaysia has played around with censorship/internet-censorship, but it is a crucial time as the elections are on May 5 2013 and access to information is crucial now.
The first I noted this: TMNet’s filtering of +Malaysiakini video interviews of Bala’s widow. This is a great analysis from the Sinar Project. To make matters more fun, read YouTube Deep Packet Inspection, All HTTP connections being MITMed. This analysis comes from someone who works on CDNs and knows networking pretty well. There’s more at LYN Uncovered the Truth; Our internet is monitored, BN BLOCKING SOME PKR/DAP RELATED STUFF!.
Read more about deep packet inspection. This is stuff used in China, Iran, Russia and even Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.
What are your options?
- Use HTTPS where possible
- Use a VPN that isn’t hosted in Malaysia
HTTPS is nice. Facebook supports it. Malaysiakini supports it. The Malaysian Insider needs to work on this. You can use a Firefox or Chrome plugin called HTTPS Everywhere to assist here.
VPNs are a little more complex as they require setup and usually cost. Apparently there are free ones, as cited in this article.
Spread the word. Ensure that people know this is what is happening.
Update Thu 2 May 2013 11:57:40 MYT: Sinar Project is collecting some resources on this topic and constantly updating the site with a list of known blocked URLs.
I’m surprised not a single local media site in Malaysia covered the fact that Google Apps & Chromebooks are coming to Malaysian classrooms. That’s 10 million students, teachers & parents getting Google Apps accounts. Primary & secondary schools get Chromebooks. This, I guess has something to do with the fact that there will be a laptop provided for every student if BN wins again.
It looks like the only cost to us is the Chromebooks. The Google Apps for Education accounts are free, implying a significant investment into Malaysia by Google.
Read more about large deployments of Chromebook. It seems that the deal is between YTL, Frog, Samsung, Acer & Google. YTL provides the Internet connectivity via YES4G/1BestariNet. frogasia is a YTL subsidiary, and it looks like they’re providing learning apps.
I worried about generations being tied to Microsoft Office. Is it time to worry that the next generation gets tied to Google Apps? I continue to worry overall that the focus is doing everything in-browser, and while I’m a big proponent of the idea that the browser is the OS, I still do a lot of things outside the browser.
It seems like Chromebooks can be provided by either Samsung or Acer. There must be something custom being built for YTL’s WiMAX chips to be popped in. Nonetheless, I doubt that there are many Malaysians experienced with Chromebooks or accomplishing everything within a browser.
Further reading: Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2015, Classrooms, Chromebooks & The Web: Lessons from Miami to Malaysia.
I’m buying a Chromebook (not the Pixel) to take a deep-dive. There are virtual machines too.
I never had a cheque book when I lived in Australia. I got my first chequebook when I moved back about five years ago, for the sole purpose of paying for a car (they wouldn’t accept a charge card)!
Cheques aren’t free. Each leaf costs 0.15 sen (this is the stamp duty that you pay – so the book costs RM7.50). I use it nowadays to pay my credit cards at different banks, because the limit for an electronic GIRO transaction stands at RM5,000 per day, plus you have to pay a RM2 fee per transaction. Simple economics suggest that the cheque is cheaper.
Bank Negara has decided to shake that up: from April 1 2014, the issuer now has to pay a 0.50 sen fee. So now, issuing a cheque costs 0.65 sen. (that means each cheque book now costs an additional RM25, bringing the total cost now to RM32.50 over RM7.50).
On the bright side, they want more transactions processed online: interbank GIRO transactions now cost a mere 0.10 sen per transaction effective May 2 2013. I argue that this fee should be brought down to zero, but it is cheaper than a cheque. My only concern might be the silly RM5,000 limit that they may impose (something you don’t have to worry about a cheque).
What irks me is the last statement: “By 2020, pricing of all payment services would be based on the cost of providing the service.” The cost of providing a service in Malaysia goes up tremendously due to inefficient thanks to the lack of meritocracy in the hiring process. We are all paying for the NEP now.