Archive for the ‘Malaysia’ Category

Bitcoin Exchanges can’t work in Malaysia

News today: Genneva (gold trading company, launched by former Prime Minister Mahathir) Malaysia director charged with accepting deposits without a license.

So if you’re thinking of a Bitcoin exchange in Malaysia, think again. Bank Negara Malaysia obviously doesn’t think much of Bitcoin. How will you accept deposits without a license? 

Singapore on the other hand proves itself to be in the forefront of finance: treat Bitcoin like a product. Read the full IRAS statement. Singapore is about to get its first Bitcoin ATM soon.

For further reading, see the BAFIA 1989, in its entirety. Once again, laws that prevent innovation.

English rules

I just read: Unseen gap in ecosystem, and techies in their cocoons. English is brought up as an issue. 

English is the medium of communication. You can code in whatever computer language exists, but if you can’t write your weekly reports, you can’t write commit messages, you can’t write proper comments in your code and you can’t communicate with the rest of your team via email, you have failed at communication. 

Malaysians can excel if they improve their English. Period. You learn English in school but its not enough. I’ve seen Malaysian Computer Science syllabi that teaches English at university level. Apparently it is not enough. 

This is a policy decision. The government is choosing to push their agenda forward by ensuring that the people cannot converse in English. English is like teaching the man to fish. As long as you are given fish, you are going to be dependent on the ruling regime.

English is key. If you can’t get your message across, you will destroy whatever pitchdeck you have. 

So are non-English speakers are severely undervalued? No. Not even in a team of non-English coders. Let’s say they all speak Bahasa Malaysia. When they hit a problem, can they solve it by Googling it? Can they read documentation in another language and comprehend it? (Note: this is different if your team of coders speaks Russian, Japanese, Korean, etc. where there’s plenty of local language content being created).

At a previous company where we hired people from over 30 countries, and 70% of the people worked at home, what we did was pay for English language lessons for employees that couldn’t communicate in English. You were hired on the basis that you were a good coder, but you also had to complete English to be able to communicate with everyone involved.

I’ve taken this lesson to heart. Anytime I’m consulting with a company where the level of English is subpar, I ensure that the key people get tutored in the language. Not only does it help them grow, it helps in my planned obsolescence – they are empowered to solve more by themselves as I teach them more technically, and as they can now find solutions themselves as they grok the English language.

What value does Najib & his entourage bring from Silicon Valley visit?

I was alerted to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, visiting San Francisco by a bunch of friends on a Whatsapp group I’m on. Someone took a picture of the front page of The Sun. The article is online: Najib on working visit to San Francisco, NY. There’s more: Najib to tweet from Twitter Hq in San Francisco on Monday and PM tweets live from Twitter HQ. I will dissect all this later. Bear with me as this might be long, but I think these innovation tourism trips are an immense waste of money.

Now, before you continue reading, please go and read this article from the Financial Times: Valley visitors must bring back more than the T-shirt by Richard Waters (April 17 2013). If you’re not a subscriber, Google the title and I’m sure you can find it (or just browse in incognito mode, that might work?). This is mandatory reading because it will set the tone for what I have to digest.

Najib arrived in San Francisco with his wive Rosmah. I have to ask — what is the role of Rosmah, besides to help prop up the US economy? They took their private jet to arrive in San Francisco, which can be afforded to the man that is the Prime Minister (a Boeing Business Jet, a customised 737). Najib’s purpose was to attend the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC), initiated by Najib in 2010, to transform Malaysia into a high-income economy by enhancing capabilities in science & innovation. He also toured Twitter & Google (only to meet happy Malaysians working away from Malaysia), and as Prime Minister, this is his first visit to Silicon Valley. 

Najib has 1.7 million Twitter followers, many of whom are fake. He met Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who’s probably really happy that Najib contributes to his bottom-line. Najib was supposed to have dinner with Malaysians, but a few that I knew who applied, weren’t invited. Najib will experience the Google driverless car and Google Glass.

At this point I’m thinking none of this impresses me. 

Let’s dissect some statements:

  1. “Najib has been dubbed by many as among world leaders who is most active in tweeting.” – is he tweeting more, than he is leading?
  2. “Foreign CEOs (chief executive officers) are very impressed with his knowledge in IT (Information Technology)…he even knows more about technical stuff than some of us. He impresses CEOs and big-time entrepreneurs in a big way,” said a Malaysian official commenting on Najib’s scheduled visit to Twitter on Monday. – if only this official would state his or her name.
  3. On the significance of his first visit to Silicon Valley as Malaysia’s prime minister, the official said Najib would gain the experience of the Silicon Valley ecosytem which would help his government in the successful implementation of its transformation programmes. – How do you gain experience in 3 days? What good is looking at a driverless car or playing around with Google Glass going to do for you? Naturally, the buzzwords had to be dropped in: use data and big data analytics strategies for specific people to transform the country.

I know that they had events at The Fairmont, InterContinental Mark Hopkins and the Grand Hyatt. While I might stay at the latter from time-to-time, I also know that this week is Oracle OpenWorld. All hotel prices are about 300% what they are usually set at, as 60,000 conference attendees throng to San Francisco. 

What irked me and prompted me to write this is the fact that Najib is also accompanied by cabinet ministers and senior government officials. Say holiday with me, people.

Go back and read Valley visitors must bring back more than a t-shirt. Najib and his entourage arrived to learn the secrets that turned San Francisco into an innovation hotspot. When all these people come back to reality (read: Malaysia), they will claim a heightened state of enlightenment. However even Silicon Valley locals know that, “the chances that anything of lasting value will come from these pilgrimages are slight.” The term for this is: innovation tourism.

The article by Richard Waters cannot be truer. The stories next week will be along the lines of this:

The VIPs among them are given something to talk about when they get home, like a spin in Google’s driverless car or a chance to graze at the sushi and barbecue bars in Facebook’s free canteen.

Can these experiences turn it into lasting value for Malaysia? Can Malaysia act with speed? Can Malaysia act with meritocracy? Can one inject a sense of urgency into Malaysians? Will Najib & his entourage go away with this knowledge in 3 days?

This trip was organised by MDeC as part of the Industry Advisory Panel (IAP). Badlisham is going to tell Silicon Valley 16 years later how far we’ve come? MDeC is footing the bill for its own delegation and possibly some entrepreneurs paid their own way there.

Why is MDeC wasting money? What has happened with the IAP for the last 16 years? What has MDeC achieved in the last 16 years? I have been to an IAP meeting when I was part of Sun Microsystems – a lot of talk, but nothing came out of it. Lots of nodding heads. Lots of potentially great ideas. But it just ends at that. Ideas.

I’ve seen MDeC send delegations overseas. Fully paid trips, business class travel, plush hotels (remember, San Francisco’s hotels are at a premium this week). Not to mention great food. A few years ago, a delegation went to an opensource conference in the USA. None of the delegation were in the opensource world, yet the government of Malaysia paid for their fun. Shortly thereafter, the MDeC lead left the organisation; none of the delegates have done anything remotely opensource since then. Can you say holiday with me, people? Another delegation went to Europe, only to note that members (senior) of that delegation was going to leave MDeC anyway. Can you say holiday with me, people?

I am of the belief that innovation tourism is a waste of money and time. All this might impress the average villager but the urban population see this as an incredible waste of money.

Mark my words: nothing will come out of this trip. Sure, some companies would announce their availability of services, press releases, etc. Nothing that couldn’t have been done by the companies themselves (not requiring Najib & his entourage). Malaysia has fundamental problems that doesn’t make it like the United States of America. Cyberjaya is a pale comparison to Silicon Valley.

Any guesses how much was wasted spent on this trip? This is the same government telling you to cut back on expenses as they increase fuel prices by 20 sen a litre.

On legitimacy

“Mr. Maduro’s presidency is still viewed as illegitimate by roughly half of the Venezuelan electorate, who voted for challenger Henrique Capriles in April.” – Mary Anastasia O’Grady in Why Venezuela Offers Asylum to Snowden.

So in Malaysia, 51% voted for the opposition, but thanks to the constituency-based voting system, the ruling coalition secured 60% of the seats.

Do Malaysians view Mr. Najib’s leadership as illegitimate?

On emigration

I recently spoke to some emigrants who left Malaysia for Australia about five years ago. They are settled in, and have given up their Malaysian citizenship so are no longer voters. Many friends that I know whom have started families end up giving up their Malaysian citizenship to become Australian.

So Malaysia has over a million emigrants. How many of them are still Malaysian?

This all came back to me when I read: The Best Hope for France’s Young? Get Out.

THE French aren’t used to the idea that their country, like so many others in Europe, might be one of emigration — that people might actually want to leave. To many French people, it’s a completely foreign notion that, around the world and throughout history, voting with one’s feet has been the most widely available means to vote at all.

Leave that kind of voting to others, they think, to the Portuguese, the Italians, the Spaniards and the Africans — to all those waves of immigrants who came to France over the course of the last century. France has always been a land to which people dream of coming. Not leaving.

MCMC policing blocks 6,400 websites since 2008

I just read that MCMC blocked 6,640 websites since 2008. That’s an average of about 1,300 sites blocked a year. Reasons to get blocked:

  • fake bank websites
  • copyright infringement (I presume these are torrent search engines, MP3/MP4 hosts, etc)
  • pornography 
  • insulting the royal institution

I have less issue with blocking fake bank websites; but rather than blocking them, they should be prosecuting them to shutdown. This is the same with sites infringing copyright – you get the content removed via a takedown notice, failing which you attempt to shut the site down. You don’t use resources to block the site.

Now, what about pornography? Isn’t it bad enough you can’t pick up pornography at your friendly local magazine store? Malaysians seem to have an appetite for porn, and I wish they woke up to realise that this isn’t a bad thing. Its much worse to have an urge and rape your child/sister/in-law/a stranger. 

The royal institution – does the MCMC know how to draw a line between insults and discourse? Malaysian authority generally has no clue of the difference between disloyalty and dissent. There is no institution that is off bounds for questioning – all societies deserve the right to ask questions in an open fashion.

Insults and slander on the Internet will not disrupt the political stability of the country. Insults and slander are published in mainstream media, by politicians, so I doubt the average Joe on the street is going to make a change. But if enough people start thinking and their minds start opening up, what it can do is impact a regime change. And remember, slander and defamation have their own laws that can be applied from the real world. Sedition needs to just go.

Why do we pay the MCMC to police the Internet when really, the onus should be on the user? If I’m a concerned parent, I could install (and pay for – i.e. spur economies) software that filters my own connection. 

A question no one has asked or received an answer for: Where is this complete list of 6,400 websites?


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